Restoration

Once the creative process has been concluded, the resulting work of art exists in the world as a presence in human consciousness. Restoration can then be contemplated, but every time it is undertaken, it must be based on a singular recognition of the work as a work of art, as a special product of humanity. Restoration will depend on this recognition. From his first definition of restoration, in 1948, Brandi identified two lines of thought: one aimed at bringing common products of human activity back to efficiency, and the other referred to the restoration of special products, i.e., artistic objects. Due to its definition, a work of art can only be restored on the basis of an aesthetic approach to the work itself, not as a question of taste but as an issue related to the specificity of art. It is the work of art that must condition restoration - not the opposite.

The process of the recognition of the work of art/architecture consists of its identification as such, as analysed by Brandi in Le due vie (Brandi, 1966, 1989). Instead of taking the situation from the point of view of the

Figure 8.11 The front of Wells Cathedral was conceived and built together with the statues; its potential unity is expressed in all its elements. Any interventions, such as cleaning or consolidation, should be carried out with clear understanding of this relationship. Removal of the statues from their context would damage the architectural, historical whole of the cathedral

Figure 8.11 The front of Wells Cathedral was conceived and built together with the statues; its potential unity is expressed in all its elements. Any interventions, such as cleaning or consolidation, should be carried out with clear understanding of this relationship. Removal of the statues from their context would damage the architectural, historical whole of the cathedral artist/architect or of the spectator, Brandi proposed to analyse the work of art:

1. in itself and per se, in its structure; and

2. at the moment when it is received in a consciousness.

Taking the example of a historic building, we can understand that it is not just made of a certain amount of material, but that each single element and the spatial-structural system of the building are subject to an architectural concept. The building in its material form thus represents a physical phenomenon, but at the same time the material also has the function of transmitting the architectural concept to the observer. The building as a work of art therefore is more than a physical phenomenon; it embodies the artistic concept which is non-physical (fenomeno-che-fenom-eno-non-e). Although the material of the building ages with time, its artistic concept is perceived in human consciousness, and this can only take place in the present. Therefore, Brandi concludes, a work of art is always in the present. Consequently, the recognition by an individual needs to be made every time restoration is contemplated.

Considering its special character, a work of art is a whole, i.e., it is not just a geometrical total of its parts, but all its elements together form the whole according to the concept of the artist or architect and the particular manner in which it has been constructed. Taken separately, the tessarae of a mosaic are not works of art, even an ad hoc collection of these in itself does not produce art. Furthermore, a work of art or a historic building is indeed and only as it appears. It cannot be referred to an external model for its ideal reconstruction according a stylistic scheme -as was often the case in the nineteenth century. Instead, the 'whole' manifests itself in an indivisible unity that potentially may continue to exist in its parts, even if the original is broken in pieces, i.e., becomes a ruin. Restoration must be limited to the original whole, and be based on what is suggested by the potential unity of the work of art, taking into account the demands of its historical and aesthetic aspects.

The work of art thus has a twofold polarity consisting of two aspects or 'instances' (istanza), the aesthetic and the historical, as well as forming a whole with potential unity. Its historicity is independent from the aesthetic values and the way these may vary over time. Both instances need to be taken into account when contemplating restoration. This is condensed in a fundamental definition of restoration and two complementary statements:

• 'Restoration consists of the methodological moment of the recognition of the work of art, in its physical consistency and in its twofold aesthetic and historical polarity, in view of its transmission to the future.'

• 'One only restores the material of the work of art.'

• 'Restoration should aim at the re-establishment of the potential unity of the work of art, so far as this is possible without committing an artistic or historical fake, and without cancelling any traces of the passage of the work of art in time.'32

Following from the definition of the work of art, time and space constitute its formal condition, and are fused in a synthesis - each in relation to the other in a rhythm that institutes the form (Brandi, 1963:49). In addition, time is in phenomenological relation to the work of art in three specific phases, forming its historical time-line (tempo storico):

1. the duration required by the artist to bring the work of art into being;

2. the interval from the end of the formulation by the artist till the present;

3. the instance of recognition of the work of art in the consciousness at present.

The work of art is historicized at two separate moments: when it is brought into being by an artist (for example, when a palace is built in the sixteenth century), and when it is received in the consciousness of an individual at present. The 'historical instance' (istanza storica) can be seen in relation to different cases in the restoration of a work of art. In the extreme case of a ruin beyond recognition, a testimony of human activity, restoration could only be conceived as the consolidation and conservation of the status quo. The difficulty is to know at what point a work of art ceases being a work of art and becomes a ruin. The only way is to define up to what point the object has maintained its potential unity (e.g., the mediaeval structures in the case of Santa Chiara in Naples). Hence, one should not attempt to re-establish the potential unity of the work too far so as to destroy its authenticity, and thus to impose a new, inauthentic historical reality to prevail in absolute over the antique work.

Brandi states that the task of art history is to explore - within temporal succession - the

Figure 8.12 Wall decoration in Shah-i-Zindeh, the monumental cemetery of Samarkand. The tesserae of a mosaic form a work of art together and not separately. Repairs have been made in 'neutral' forms, respecting the original

'extra-temporal', inner dimension of time and rhythm. However, this should not be confused with the history of 'temporal time' related to changing tastes and fashions, which contains the work of art, 'concluded and immutable'. Restoration is legitimate when related to the third phase, which includes the present and the past, as one should not pretend to reverse time nor abolish history. Furthermore, restoration must be specified as a historic event, which it is as a human action; it is part of the process of transmission of the work of art to the future. Any other moment chosen for restoration would lead into arbitrary results. Identifying restoration with the moment of artistic creation, for example, would result in fantasy, and be contradictory to the concept of a work of art as a concluded process, as would be the so-called stylistic or period restorations.

Figure 8.13 Insensitive planning can destroy the relationship of a historic building with its context. This example from the Barbican area, London

Another related issue concerns the inner spatiality of the work of art in relation to the space represented by its physical context. Architectural spatiality is not contained only within the walls of the building concerned, but also involves the relationship with the spatial-

ity of the surrounding built context. Problems exist especially in historic towns, where changes in the urban fabric modify the spatial condition of specific historic monuments. The same is valid in relation to architectural remains. Ruins are often integrated in the

Figure 8.14 The early seventeenth-century elevation of Palazzo dell'Orologio in Pisa was taken by Brandi as an example of incorrectly conceived restoration. The remains of the reconstructed Gothic window represent a feature from a past phase now in ruin. It would have been more correct to allow the integrity of the classical façade to prevail

Figure 8.14 The early seventeenth-century elevation of Palazzo dell'Orologio in Pisa was taken by Brandi as an example of incorrectly conceived restoration. The remains of the reconstructed Gothic window represent a feature from a past phase now in ruin. It would have been more correct to allow the integrity of the classical façade to prevail

Figure 8.15 The cathedral of Cefalu in Sicily was restored by removing neo-classical plasterwork from a chapel in order to display the fragments of an earlier Norman construction — thus destroying the integrity achieved through time

context of a landscape or a panorama, such as English landscape gardens with remains of mediaeval abbeys, and should be treated properly in relation to this new artistic whole.

Whenever the instances of the twofold polarity, aesthetic and historical, may seem in conflict, a solution should not be attempted through a compromise but through an adaptation inherent in the work of art itself. Considering that the specificity of the work of art is in its being art, the historical instance can generally be seen as secondary. When an object, that has maintained its potential unity, has additions that obscure or disturb its artistic image, the aesthetic instance can justify their removal - obviously taking care of proper recording of the fact. However, when such additions have consolidated themselves in iconography, their removal might mean reconstituting the historic object ex novo, which is not the scope of restoration. Therefore, any time such removals are contemplated, judgement should be based on values taking into account both aesthetic and historical instances.

Brandi disagreed with the common practice of 'archaeological restoration', where the remains were often treated from a purely historical viewpoint. Even ruins are often remains of works of art; these should thus be examined following the same critical process. Ruins can also be part of a more recent

Figure 8.16 A part of the columns of Temple C in Selinunte were re-erected as 'anastylosis' in the 1950s. Brandi did not accept this, considering that the potential unity had already been lost also due to the deformation of elements after lying in the ground for centuries

construction, a part of another work of art; in such a case, the unity of this second construction should be duly respected. For example, rebuilding a mediaeval mullioned window within a classical elevation can hardly be justified. (A typical tendency in many European countries.)

Brandi maintained that the material in relation to the aesthetic aspect of a work of art could be understood as having two functions: one related to providing the 'structure' (struttura), the other concerning the 'aspect' (aspetto) of the object. Considering the artistic importance of such objects, priority should generally be given to what is most important artistically. If, for purposes of safeguarding, it should be necessary to make an intervention, such as consolidation or reinforcement, this should be limited to the part of material that forms the structure rather than interfering in the aspect. For example, when structural consolidation is carried out in historic buildings the purpose is to maintain the architectural aspect of the building. On the other hand, Brandi's distinction should not be understood in the sense that the structure would have no significance. Particularly when dealing with historic buildings, the original structural system should be considered as an essential element contributing to the significance of the building. In some cases, the structure can even be more important than the appearance, and it often contains archaeolog-ically essential information. Fagadism certainly is not the purpose in safeguarding historic buildings.

Concerning the aesthetic aspect of a work of art, be it a historic building or even a partially ruined ancient monument, any reintegration can be referred to the experience gathered in the Gestalt-psychology in assessing the visual weight of different types of reintegrations in relation to the existing original surfaces; new, sharp-edged, bright additions can easily detract attention from the old, patinated originals. Considering that the purpose of restoration is to conserve and not to renovate an historic monument, it is necessary to adjust modern reintegration to historical parts rather than the other way round. Under the direction of Brandi, methods were developed for the application of the theory in the practice of painting restoration, including clear criteria for the reintegration of losses (lacunae). Further application of these criteria on historic buildings and ruined structures has also been reflected, particularly, by Paul Phili-ppot in his lectures and papers at ICCROM (Philippot, 1976). Brandi himself formulated three principles (Brandi, 1963:45f):

1. Any reintegration should be easily recognizable at close distance but, at the same time, it should not offend the unity that is being restored.

2. The part of material that directly results in the images is irreplaceable so far as it forms the aspect and not the structure.

3. Any restoration should be so made that it will not be an obstacle for necessary future interventions; indeed, these should be facilitated.

Referring to restoration in the past, Brandi quotes the rebuilding of the Pantheon by Hadrian as an example not for restoration but of re-establashing the idea of the monument. The principles guiding the action of 're-completing' ancient statues in the Renaissance (e.g., Apollo of Belvedere, Laocoon) were based fundamentally on the idea of beauty in harmony with the Platonic philosophy; the restorers spiritually linked the statues with their own time, 'in a historical presence' - as if translating them into a new language. This corresponds to Brandi's interpretation of the Renaissance not as the rebirth of antiquity but as a new style utilizing past elements and concepts as part of a new creative context. For Thorwaldsen, instead, classical antiquity was perfect and remote, and the 're-completion' of the arms and legs of the Aeginetan statues was based on an erroneous assessment of established canons; he thus reproduced the lost parts as if in an artificial language of the nineteenth-century neo-classicism. According to Brandi, nineteenth-century revivals mostly tried to copy old schemes without really creating a new architectural language.

From the historical point of view, however, additions can be seen as a new phase of history, and, especially in architecture, this can relate to development and the introduction of new functions. Additions can thus be legitimate, and, in principle, should be conserved. Generally, it is necessary always to respect the new unity that has been reached through creative interventions - especially as these represent history. Any removal should be correctly justified, and a trace should be left on the monument itself. Otherwise, destruction would easily result in the abolition and falsification of history. Concerning reconstruction, the situation is different so far as it tends to interfere in the creative process and abolish time between coming into being and the moment of restoration. Brandi disagreed with the reconstruction of the Campanile of San Marco, because what was required was only a vertical element, not a full reconstruction.

Copies, replicas or reproductions can be conceived for the purposes of documentation, and they are conceivable so far as the process does not damage the original, e.g., when making casts. Although a copy or a fake can be produced using similar methods, a fake results from the intention to falsify. This can be done either by pretending to pass a replica for an original, or by producing an object in the style of a past period and offering it to the market as an original of that period (Brandi, 1992b:368; see also Jones, 1990). Misconceived 'restoration' can also falsify the artistic concept of a work by misinterpreting its proportions, surface treatments, or materials - a risk often met on archaeological sites in particular.

In his theory, Brandi has summarized the essential concepts of conservation in relation to works of art, including architecture; he has emphasized their specificity and the role of historical critical definition as a basis for any intervention, and he has underlined the importance of the conservation of historical and artistic authenticity. The theory illustrates the critical process that is required any time modern restoration is contemplated, and it forms a sort of grammar, the use of which requires mature historical consciousness. The theory of Brandi can be seen as a paradigm recognized at an international level in the development of conservation policies. It has been the basic guideline in training programmes in many schools of specialization, including the international courses of ICCROM, in Rome and the different countries of the world. It has been a reference when writing the Venice Charter, and in the development of other conservation policy statements and guidelines. Brandi himself was involved in the preparation of a new guideline for the Italian government administrators, the Carta del Restauro of 1972. The goal of this charter was to group together the different types of heritage resources (antiquities, architecture, paintings, sculptures, 'historic centres'), and to propose the principles of the same type of methodical approach to each (Monti, 1995: 156FF).

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment