Career in Art Restoration

Art Restoration and Art Conservation are related to each other. Art Restoration is a process in which the art form is restored to a stage which the restorer imagines as its original stage. However, by the 20th century, a separate view of conservation was developed in which it was decided that preservation of art forms should be aimed for the future and to make all restoration work reversible. E.g. for the restoration work done for Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, a technique was used in which water color paints was used to inpaint damages and this technique claimed to achieve almost complete reversibility. Nowadays the most commonly used type of inpaint technique is Tinted Varnish treatment.
Art Conservation usually involves cleaning and stabilization of art work. The cleaning process is highly risky process and should be done with great care or else the art work would get damaged due to simple mistakes from the part of restorer. Usually, the damages caused to the art works are due to environmental effects i.e. mainly temperature and humidity changes and pollution. Nowadays, much effort is given to restoring the damaged art forms to its original stage and producing a stable and favorable situation for the display of art works and maintaining regular inspection and diagnostic procedures to fight its deterioration.
Due to technological advancement, ultra modern techniques are used to check any signs of deterioration such as photographic, x-ray, infrared and other radiation examination and complex chemical analysis.
The restorer’s genuine understanding of materials, technical craftsmanship, aesthetic and historical awareness plays a huge role in the restoration of art forms.
The restoration of art forms is of several types:

SUPPORT RESTORATION – in this type of restoration, support is given to the art forms and restoration work is done after due support is provided.

GROUND RESTORATION – in this type, repainting and retouching are employed to restore the paintings.

SURFACE RESTORATION – this type of restoration deals with the restoring of surface coating of the paintings which is one of the greatest problems faced by the restorer.

RESTORATION OF SCULPTURE – as sculpture’s usually stands outside, its highly prone to environmental changes and therefore, placing the sculpture in temperature and humidity controlled situation is the best method to preserve it.

RESTORATION EMERGENCIES – due to natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, many art forms get damaged and it requires the complete unified action of conservators and restorers from around the world to help restore the art forms of great historical significance.

Nature of Work:
In India trained and skilled art restorers can easily find openings at any of the three National Museum Centres (Restoration Departments) or at private art firms or even start their own practice. Being a risky business, not many young people however, are willing to take the plunge. For such people, there are other options such as teaching, art journalism, archaeology, art dealing (involves trading art materials which requires not only a good business sense but artistic skills as well.

We have come a long way in changing our attitudes about art – before broken or damaged objects were considered inauspicious and thrown away and today, they are sold at lakhs of rupees. Art, after all, is to be cherished forever. This radical change in attitudes has fuelled the art restoration business. Even though restoration takes place at selected places (museums, private art firms), the need for skilled restorers is desperately felt. This is therefore, a promising future for all art-lovers.

For joining a course in art restoration in any one of the institutes anywhere in India, a person needs to possess a basic degree with specialisation in subjects like archaeology, ancient and medieval history, history of world art and so forth. For getting into a reputed institution, a high percentage of marks would be required. The candidate should preferably have some basic knowledge about the various art forms and prominent schools of art. This intricate career is based on the apprenticeship pattern. New entrants train and practice under experienced restorers, taking on new and larger projects as and when they are taken up. Years of hard work and experience are required before a person becomes adept at this art. Most of the training given is in Art History where graduates then go on to learn on-the-job, working as apprentices.
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