Eye hospital sees return of Yaacov Agam sculpture
The aptly named “Complex Vision” sculpture by Yaacov Agam has been restored to its original glory and reinstalled at the Callahan Eye Hospital at the University of Alabama located in Birmingham.
Originally installed in 1976, Agam used his famously kinetic art style to create a sculpture that encourages movement. When viewed on the right side, the artwork is black and white, but as the viewer moves to the front, colorful patterns begin to appear. Finally, on the left side of the sculpture, bright, bold colors are seen.
The 30-foot by 30-foot sculpture adorns the side of the hospital and is made up of 69 two-sided aluminum panels, each one measuring just over 9 feet long by 13 inches wide and weighing 50 pounds.
Brian Spraberry, CEO of Callahan Eye Hospital, told AL.com that the hospital’s original benefactor, Dr. Alston Callahan, was an art lover who wanted a special installation for patients when they emerged from surgery.
“Usually people with blinding eye disease have their vision affected, they can’t see color in quite the same way, so this piece is there for them to have a pleasant experience after surgery, to see the vibrancy of colors they’ve been missing because the variety of things they’ve had wrong with their vision,” Spraberry said.
Art Creations and Renovations, a company that specializes in Agam works, was hired to take on the project. The weather-worn panels were removed and shipped to the company’s studio in April 2014.
Agam oversaw the restoration, which consisted of sanding down and acid-washing each panel. Etching primer and sealers were applied before the 121 colors chosen by Agam were painted back onto the panels. A clear coat was applied to protect the sculpture from the elements.
With the panels restored, reinstallation began on March 26, 2015 and finished March 30. New mounting hardware was installed to update the structure itself.
To help with any future restoration or repairs, Spraberry worked with Agam and Art Creations and Renovations to create a blueprint of “Complex Vision” that includes the colors, layout and other details agreed upon by the artist and technicians.
In a video from UAB News, Spraberry says the artwork is synonymous with the hospital, but has also become a part of Birmingham.
“This is here not only for our patients, but it’s also here for the community,” he says.