ERIC Number: EJ778659
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Sep-21
Reference Count: N/A
Italy's Treasures Are in Their Hands
Rocca, Francis X.
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n4 pA40 Sep 2007
Each year more than 300 applicants vie for 18 slots at the Central Institute of Restoration, the program responsible for the restoration of many of Italy's greatest works of art, and the training of experts in the repair of objects of artistic and/or cultural significance. Successful candidates must demonstrate knowledge of art history, chemistry, physics, archaeology, and the Italian laws relevant to their field. They must take a drawing test. But by far the most important part of their rigorous five-day evaluation is the simulation of an actual restoration project, a project graded not only on the quality of the final result, but on the approach taken by the student. Care is necessary to protect not just the artwork but the restorer, too. The course of study culminates with a thesis that is typically based on an extensive restoration project. Thesis writers often discover new solutions to restoration problems, for instance through the innovative use of chemicals. The institute's founder, Cesare Brandi, emphasizes the principles of "recognizability" and "reversibility." Any change in a restored object must be evident upon close inspection, though not necessarily to the ordinary viewer; and it must not be permanent. When in doubt, Brandi's disciples prefer to leave a work of art visibly incomplete rather than presume to take the artist's place. The current director believes that it is possible to restore too much. Caterina Bon Valsassina deplores the popular emphasis on ostentatious restorations of masterpieces, which she says are often unnecessary, when scarce funds would be better spent on small conservation measures for the country's widely dispersed artistic patrimony. "You can always find money for Michelangelo," says Ms. Bon Valsassina. "The hard part is getting money to repair a roof or seal windows so that moisture doesn't get in and ruin things. But that's the sort of thing that makes a difference."
Descriptors: Art History, Maintenance, Art Education, Museums, Art, Foreign Countries, Simulation, Student Evaluation, Competitive Selection, Training Methods, Student Projects, Safety, Field Experience Programs, Postsecondary Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Italy