Conservation and the Making of Art History

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Fri, Apr 17 - Sat, Apr 18, 2020

Venue: The Clark Art Institute

225 South Street, Williamstown, MA 01267

This conference will consider the role of conservation in the historiography of art history and how different approaches to loss, reintegration, authenticity, and temporality are central to writing about objects. A premise of this conference is that debates about conservation are philosophical examinations of time and its representation. Nevertheless, conservation remains a distinct discipline from art history as it uses scientific techniques such as x-radiography, x-ray fluorescence, infrared-reflectography, and ultraviolet illumination to interrogate works. As art historians are becoming increasingly interested in conservation practices, we have a responsibility to address these new kinds of evidence on their own terms, while also considering the epistemic questions that conservation science raises.

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