In the summer of 2002, Mark Alexander was living in Berlin while developing his Shield of Achilles project with the German woodcarver Bernard Lankers. It was here that, by chance, Alexander first encountered one of the forgotten wonders of the German Rococo -- the Mannheim Altarpiece (1739-41), which was being restored in Lanker's workshop. Created by the Rheinland Master sculptor Paul Egells (1691-1752), the exquisite panels of the giltwood altar, which depict Man's Fall and expulsion from Eden, had been reduced to fragments during bombing runs on Mannheim in the Second World War. For two centuries, the moving scenes of the massive altar -- which rise like a screen separating two worlds, innocence and experience -- were a site of spiritual pilgrimage, enthralling both Mozart and Schiller. Alexander was moved by the unexpected fragility of this powerful work, which seems to synchronize an overt sexuality with an intense piety in a way that struck him as prophetic and modern. Seeing within the piece an icon for our own fragmented times, Alexander resolved to reinvent the altarpiece in the spirit of his earlier recastings of classical and medieval masterworks.