Touching Vision. Essays on restoration theory and the perception of art (2004)
creator(s) Dr. Hiltrud Schinzel (author)
publisher VUBPress Brussels

The author is restorer, art historian and painter. In the book ‘Touching Vision’ these fields of activity are connected metaphorically. Affectionate sketches of the artworld drawn from a conservation point of view lead to the invention of a restoration philosophy, the essence of which is equilibration. In the author’s view balancing between past and present, today and now, and between art and science is the main issue of conservation / restoration today. Apart from developing restoration theory mainly for contemporary art, the texts want to illuminate how questions coming up in conservation lead to a growing consciousness of the importance of art and culture in today’s society. All are concerned with the exceptional characteristics of art namely: curiosity combined with courage, materialized reflection, touchable aesthetics and love linked with generosity.

Starting point and constant object are conservation problems of contemporary art. Under different aspects problems are described and analysed. Problemsolving is approached with different methods, the last and most appropriate being the analysis of the dual system of mind and matter in the art-work.

As a matter of fact, when applying such methods, general theoretical as well as ethical questions unavoidably come to the fore. They are described and analysed. In fact results of such research on contemporary art are questionmarks regarding the status and value of art and culture in contemporary information and communication society. Reflections from a conservation point of view have to include the danger to its cultural heritage of the demands of an economically oriented mass-society.

Criticism of contemporary cultural circumstances would be useless and not fitting for the balancing standpoint of conservation without a definition of positive values and influences of culture and art for today’s society. Proposals for defining and enforcing these influences and for problemsolving have to be given. Both themes are treated in the last five essays. Here the topical importance of art and culture for a peaceful society is the main issue. How to develop such an influence of the arts on the contemporary viewer is demonstrated by positive as well as negative examples and accompanying reflections.

262 pages, ISBN 90-5487-352-3

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