Art Restoration: The Culture, the Business and the Scandal by James Beck
This work deals with one of the most important and contentious issues in the world of fine art. Starting in the 1970s a flood has developed of restorations of works of art. London's National Gallery (first in this field by several decades), Washington's National Gallery, the Metropolitan, the Louvre, the Prado, the Uffizi, and others besides, are restoring their collections on a wholesale basis. Much of what is being done is radical and, in its effects, irreversible. Yet a generation from now, or less, the assumptions and most advanced technologies of today may well be regarded as backward, misconceived or plain wrong. James Beck discusses the recent restoration of three Renaissance masterpieces including Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling, one of the high points - and perhaps now also one of the tragedies - in the history of Western art. New evidence is presented of what has been done, and why, and it is certain to be controversial. Professor Beck also inquires into the social, cultural and, increasingly, commerical factors that underlie the recent spate of restorations that has produced what amounts to a restoration establishment with its own networks, priorities and interests. Last, he offers hope not only that change is possible but that the need for change is beginning to be recognized, and he puts forward ideas for hastening the process. Professor Beck is the founder and Director of Artwatch International.