Colorful Agam sculpture returns to Callahan Eye Hospital

After restoration, Yaacov Agam’s “Complex Vision” once again adorns the Callahan Eye Hospital.
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“Complex Vision” has returned to its place on the side of the Callahan Eye Hospital at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The kinetic sculpture, originally installed in 1976, was taken down for restoration last April. The sculpture was created by famed artist Yaacov Agam, often called the father of kinetic art.

“Alston Callahan, the founder of the hospital and the primary force behind acquiring ‘Complex Vision,’ had a passion for art, and a passion to help people with eye disease,” said Brian Spraberry, CEO of Callahan Eye Hospital. “He wanted to give them an experience that they could appreciate.”

Under the guidance of Agam himself, officials at Callahan contracted Art Creations and Renovations, a company specializing in restoring Agam works, to restore the badly weathered and faded sculpture to its original vibrant glory. Crews disassembled the 30-by-30-foot sculpture and shipped it to their studio in Florida in April 2014.

Just shy of a year later, it came back. Reinstallation began March 26, and the final panel was put in place March 30.

“Complex Vision” comprises 69 aluminum panels, each 9 feet, 9 inches long by 13 inches wide and weighing roughly 50 pounds. The panels were stripped of the old paint and acid-washed. Etching primer and sealers were applied before the panels were repainted with the original colors approved by Agam himself. A clear coat that will protect the sculpture for years was then applied.

“This is here, not only for the patients, but also for the community,” Spraberry said. “It’s part of the culture of the Eye Hospital. This piece has become synonymous with who we are as a hospital and as part of UAB Medicine.”

Spraberry, who says that restoring famous sculptures is not normally part of the job description for hospital CEOs, worked with Agam and Art Creations and Renovations to create a detailed blueprint of “Complex Vision” to aid in any future restoration.

“So we have the colors, the layout, all of the particulars agreed to by the artist and by the technician,” he said. “We now have a working document so that someone 50 years from now, if they needed to rebuild this, could rebuild it to the original specifications that the artist had in mind even back to 1976.”