Back in 2006, American artist Jeff Koons had an idea. Famous for his controversial, ground-breaking body of work dealing with celebrity culture, advertising and commerce in modern America, he decided he wanted to try something rather different for his next project. Koons planned to make a precisely rendered model of the Liberty Bell, the famous and famously cracked Philadelphia landmark.
Quickly, he realised 3D scan and print technology would be essential to pulling this off. He also realised it would be a pretty hefty task.
That’s why Koons turned to Direct Dimensions, the world’s leading authority on geometric measurement technology. You’ve probably heard of Direct Dimensions before. It’s the go-to team for clients looking for the most ambitious and potentially complicated 3D prints.
This week, nearly eight years later, the final model is on show in the Whitney Museum, New York. It took a massive team to make it happen, with 64 painters, 44 sculptors, 10 digital artists and 10 administrators involved in the construction.
They were given access to the iconic symbol of American indomitability during its off-hours to capture the model with a series of exhaustive scans. Transferring the scans to 3D printable data took years of work, due to the depth of detail required.
It took a huge international collaboration, involving German metal company Arnold AG, Walla Wall Foundry bronze casting facility and wrought-iron blacksmith Tim Miller. 257 metal parts were required, matching the bell’s internal labyrinth of pieces, while its patina required years of analysis and painting to recreate.
While, previously, the Liberty Bell had been replicated in an unbroken version, Koons wanted to duplicate the bell as it is, with its iconic crack in place.
Want to see the results? You can check it out at the Jeff Koons: A Retrospective exhibition if you happen to be in Manhattan anytime between now and the end of October.