The Making of Gary Hill’s Gold Bar
425-Ounce Gold Bar Covered in Oil at Chelsea Art Gallery
Pouring a 425-ounce gold bar is no small feat. As one might imagine, it requires advanced machinery and a whole lot of technical skill; in fact, it's the kind of undertaking that most people would assume only a huge government mint, like the U.S. Mint, could handle.
But, amazingly, this daunting task was successfully completed just recently by a private mint located near Seattle. Northwest Territorial Mint - which specializes in designing and producing custom-minted products in many metals, including precious metals like gold and silver - took on the challenge of creating the massive 425-ounce bar at the request of world-renowned artist Gary Hill.
The Seattle-based artist required the bar for his new exhibit entitled Frustrum, which is currently being exhibited at the Gladstone Gallery in lower Manhattan's Chelsea art district. Throughout his remarkable career, which spans more than three decades, Hill's installations have been featured in the world's leading galleries, from New York's famed Museum of Modern Art to the Fondation Cartier Pour L'art Contemporain in Paris.
In Frustrum, the near-thirty-pound solid gold bar produced for Hill by Northwest Territorial Mint sits in a shallow pool of oil, over which an animated eagle violently flaps his wings, struggling to break free from a transmission tower. A soundtrack of jarring whip cracks creates conflict with the sensual surrounds of gold and oil, forcing the viewer to confront the deeper ramifications of their union. Engraved in large letters across the top of the bar is the cryptic phrase "For everything which is visible is a copy of that which is hidden." An accompanying piece, Guilt, reinforces the formal qualities unique to gold which have made it a prized material for artists and influential people throughout history.
"The use of real gold is essential to the power of this unique exhibit," said Miciah Hussey, artist liaison for the Gladstone Gallery. "It would not have been possible to convey the work's central theme in the absence of this material," Hussey said.
Creating this giant gold bar required careful planning and precise execution on the part of Northwest Territorial Mint. To prepare the gold for pouring, the company's expert team heated 520 ounces of pure .9999-fine gold - contained in a specially designed Silicone-Carbide crucible - to a temperature of approximately 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The molten gold was then poured into a custom-built graphite mold and allowed to cool. Once the bar had fully hardened, it was carefully extracted from the mold. To conform to Hill's precise specifications, nearly 100 ounces of gold were shaved from the bar before it was buffed, engraved, and ready to be shipped off to New York.
From January 13, and through February 10, 2007, this enormous bar of pure gold bathed in oil commanded the rapt attention of all those who visit the Gladstone Gallery to view Gary Hill's latest installation. Gladstone Gallery is presenting the United States premiere of Frustrum, which was previously shown in Paris at the Fondation Cartier Pour L'art Contemporain
Click on the images below to view the gallery of the making of the gold bar: