Philip Godbout Humanities C 12/19/04 Art Reaction Paper History has blessed us with the minds of great artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. From their works we derive our definitions of art and its myriad of classifications like Romantic, Gothic, Renaissance, Post-Modern and others. The natural aging process of such masterpieces as Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” and “Last Supper” only fosters their artistic value. Unfortunately, time has also left its detrimental mark on these pieces in one form or another. In this society that demands perfection, it is customary to carefully restore the aging paintings and statues. It is my opinion (as well as many art patrons’) that the restoration process physically deteriorates the art and consequentially devalues it. As a portrait or statue ages, it will naturally erode crucial characteristics of the artist’s original inspiration. The corrosion can be caused by moisture, sunlight, dust, dirt, or the curious passersby. In the example of paintings, chemical reactions in the oils or paints can dull or sallow its appearance over time. The professional restorer will try to remove excess varnish and paint or “touch up” details worn off by time. Critics such as myself discredit this practice, as we believe that it removes the essence of the artist’s true expression and depreciates the art. For example, in Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” Christ is seated in the center of the painting with a dark background and lightly distinguished face. Despite their pain-staking efforts, the expert restorers managed to noticeably repaint Christ’s face and pour a bright and colorful outlook in the room of his last meal. This may or may not be the way Da Vinci intended the public to perceive this, but it does produce a lot of controversy for the art patrons and historical philanthropists. I find that it defiles such a masterpiece. Inadvertently creating any changes to another’s work is no different than plagiarism. Another fine example is the restoration of Michelangelo’s David. Michelangelo’s sculpture of David was created just over 500 years ago only to face prude protestors. The statue was objected to for its nudity and had stones hurled at it in 1504. Twenty years later, its arm was broken in an anti-Medici family uprising. In the following centuries, Michelangelo’s David had acid spilled upon it in a cleaning accident, survived a flood, and had its toes smashed by an insane artist with a hammer. It was just last year that Florence had the statue refurbished by the “Opificio Delle Pietre Dure”, Italy's premier restoration institute for stone and marble. It was not, however, completed without protest. Agnese Paronchi, a veteran restorer who had been first chosen to clean David, resigned last April in opposition to the restoration techniques planned by the council. She felt that the distilled water used for cleaning could cause damage to areas of the statue. Fifty art scholars from around the world who shared Paronchi's opposition agreed to sign her petition to cancel the project. That was enough to force the institute to reconsider their methods. Paronchi’s petition may have helped preserve Michelangelo’s David for a while, but in the end, it was decided that the statue would be examined and cleaned eight times a year; slowly depreciating it. Continuously restoring art like this causes it to lose its original beauty and the artist’s first annotation. When we compare the rudimentary work to a restored copy, we can see the blatant disregard for detail toward the tone and setting of the picture. It is when we realize that the art we observe today may not be the same as when our children view it, we sympathize with patrons like Mrs. Paronchi. Works Cited Levoy, Marc. “Using 3D Digital Models in Michelangelo’s David Restoration” Digital Michelangelo Project. 1999. 19 Dec. 2004. <http://vcg.isti.cnr.it/projects/davidrestoration/restaurodavid.htm>. Lorenzi, Rossella. “Michelangelo's David Restoration Complete.” The Discovery Channel. 25 May 2004. 19 Dec. 2004. <http://dsc.discovery.com/news/briefs/20040524/michelangelo.html>. Poggioli, Sylvia. “Restoring Michelangelo's David” NPR. 11Aug. 2003. 19 Dec. 2004. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1390379>.
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