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Man Observing: Installation of an 8.8′ tall sculpture

Viola Frey’s monumental sculpture, Man Observing Series II, is back from its travels!  This is a larger than life sized sculpture made of 13 heavy sections of glazed earthenware ceramics.  Teamwork by staff at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco returned the sculpture to its original home in the Saxe Gallery at the de Young.

The empty platform awaiting Man Observing Series II.


The condition notes with reassembly instructions.  Large multi-sectioned objects provide unique challenges in installation.


Technicians unpacking the massive legs.


Puzzling over the fastening systems– good forward planning makes a tricky installation flow smoothly.


Two feet on the ground and growing…


Lifting the heavy blocks into place.


Making sure each piece is secured to both the lower level and the adjacent section with long threaded rods that are bolted into place.


Rising to new heights.


Great care is taken when placing the sections so as not to chip off the edges of the clay and glaze.


Near the top things get more difficult as blocks have to be lifted much higher; so long arms become great assets.


Awaiting the head– the piece that locks the rest of the sculpture into place.


Objects Conservator Lesley Bone securing the final piece of the puzzle as technicians lift the head into place.


Staff,  packing up after a job well done, look so small next to the nine foot man.


Come visit and observe the “Man Observing” once again in the Saxe Gallery at the de Young.

-Lesley Bone, Objects Conservator