300 Hours and One Legendary Artwork
January 25, 2006
With our museum reopening just five months away, SAAM is a hive of activity! One of the first artworks to be uncrated and installed is James Hampton’s legendary The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly or, as we commonly refer to it, the Hampton Throne.
Building the piece over a fourteen-year period, Hampton made this elaborate 180-piece installation from discarded furniture, cardboard, jelly glasses, glass jars, and burned-out light bulbs. He used glue, upholstery tacks, nails, straight pins, and aluminum and gold foil to make these castaways into a glittering monument to his faith.
The fragile pieces demanded care in their conservation and reinstallation. Four conservators used homemade cotton swabs and saliva to clean the objects before they were positioned for display. (Other cleaners had to be used on the gold foil, which was colored by gold varnish.) Each piece took from 8 to 12 hours to clean, with total conservation taking more than 300 hours to complete! Installation was yet another matter. It took eight people more than three days to arrange the artwork for display.
This time lapse video compresses three days of installation time into three minutes! For a closer view of Hampton’s Throne, take a look at this recent Zoom It from SAAM’s Interact column. If you find the work awesome, you’re not alone! Even poets and composers have found inspiration in it.
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