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Is art restoration a performance art?

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The NY Times discusses the public restoration of large art works. The Orsay, in particular, has begun the process of restoring art works on the open floor, in the midst of often entranced guests. The politics of this expanding practice are complicated.


The conservators prefer peace and quiet. They don't like people literally looking over their shoulders. They don't like loud announcements about the snack bar closing in ten minutes.


The museum heads love the idea. Guests can see the process underway, and witness progress over months of visiting. This is especially true of crowd funded projects where progress can be communicated on social media. Big time donors prefer to contribute to big time art, Crowd funded projects sometimes follow other vectors such as the restoration of a minor work like Courbet's Women of Gaul. French women rise up and fight the Roman invaders. Lots of symbolism there.


The women dominated restorer profession gets out front, and much more visible in their great contributions to the cultural world. They're not happy that each touch is observed and often commented on.



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