Saturday, January 19, 2008

Introduction to Art Conservation

Art Conservation and preservation go together. In fact, the very purpose of art conservation is to preserve what we were and what we are now for the generations that will follow us. Art consists of all of the things created by man with his imagination. The Conservation profession is dedicated to preserving the artifacts created by man for the enjoyment and education of future generations. What is art conservation? It is the field of the preservation of art. It differs a bit from art restoration. Art conservation approaches the idea of preservation from the aspect of prevention. Art restoration attempts to restore objects to their original form. Preventive conservation is an essential element of any group such as a museum or gallery that holds works of art. The idea is to carefully monitor the condition of the art and the environment surrounding it to minimize any damage. This includes the normal damage from aging and exposure to the elements. This is done by control of the environment and also continuously checking the condition of the art. Art conservationist and art restorers are sometimes at odds over their different approaches to preservation. The feelings of the conservationist are that the use of modern materials to touch up a work of art in an attempt to restore it to its original look actually is destroying the integrity of the work. It is no longer a historic piece of art, but something half old and half new. Often, there is compromise between art conservation and restoration when the restorer is careful to use materials that can easily be removed to improve the appearance of the art. This process is called reversibility. In other words, the art can be reversed by the removal of the touch up materials to its original historic form. Art conservation often includes the cleaning of works of art. This is considered to be part of the conservation process because dirt, grime, and pollution are serious culprits in the deterioration of the art. Even cleaning can cause some concern due to the potential damage of the cleaning agents. Usually, cleaning is done very carefully under lab conditions. Art conservation is a very important field and several American Universities have programs for advanced study of it. In the past, little thought was given to the preservation of great works of art and as a result they have been lost to us forever. The creative work of mankind is a legacy that deserves to be passed on to future generations so that they can understand who we were and what our dreams were all about. Art is a reflection of the human race and part of its history and belongs as much to the future as it does to the present. Aazdak Alisimo art conservation articles for

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