The Extraordinary Tony Bennett

8′ bronze unveiling at San Francisco Fairmont August 2016.

Bennett Signature

That’s the most beautiful statue I have ever seen. It will live in my heart forever. Thank you for being so wonderful to me. I’ll never forget this day.

Tony Bennett, Unveiling Ceremony Aug 19, 2016

San Francisco’s Ambassador

On August 19, 2016, thousands of adoring fans attended the Tony Bennett statue unveiling in front of the historic San Francisco Fairmont Hotel. The 8′ bronze statue honoring Mr. Bennett was the culmination of years of effort by emissaries such as former mayor Willie Brown to honor a man who has given so much to the City of San Francisco and provided so many people with warm memories of the City through his song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”.

Artworks Foundry Photo Shoot

In the days before Mr. Bennett’s statue was wrapped and readied for transport, we organized a photo shoot with award-winning photographer Brian Mahany. With the blessing of our friends at the foundry, our after hours session lasted deep into the night and the resulting imagery was worthy of all the work by all the people who made the Tony Bennett statue possible. Enjoy some behind the scenes shots of the photo shoot below.

Patina Lineage

One of the final and most important steps in the foundry process is the application of the patina. A good patina can make all the difference giving the final statue the final color that will define the permanent perception of the work. Karl Reichley of the Artworks Foundry is a masterful artist in his own right, providing just the right combination of chemicals on the Bennett statue to give it a distinct San Francisco feel. A darker color with hues of copper green, make the statue feel as if its been exposed to the sea air for decades and give it a common lineage to all the great statues throughout the City.

Pre-Patina

We wanted to have the statue ready for a weekend close to Mr. Bennett’s 90th birthday and that meant a hectic building process after the final approval. While the statue was at the foundry, the team responsible for the installation needed precise measurements of the bolt pattern for securing the statue to the granite base. With the team coming before the final patina was ready, we took an extra step of applying an initial light patina to the bare bronze, so the team could get a quick look at the final statue instead of showing it in an unready state. Everyone was really excited with what was on the way.

The Egyptian Box

During one visit to Mr. Wolfe’s studio, we captured an old-school technique of building the statue to the 1.3:1 life size proportion of Mr. Bennett. The process involves building two wooden boxes with model on one side and the clay stature in the other. Proportional tape measures help the artist make the larger-than-life clay piece in just the right dimension prior to assembling the hands head and feet.

Multiple Busts

Building statues of human subjects starts with the creation of the initial bust. It is the most notable part of the human body and sets the emotion for the figure. Mr. Wolfe created two busts for the Bennett statue; one set aside for the the final pour and one to use during the creation of the body. Both were handled with extreme care and and are prized pieces of the process.