Academic Session 8: Loughborough 2017

43rd Annual Conference & Art Book Fair
Loughborough University
6th to 8th April 2017

Damaged Art and the Question of Value


Kathryn Brown, Loughborough University,

This session examines the values that attach to artworks that are damaged in the process of their execution, or that have been broken, vandalized, discarded, or otherwise rendered unfit for their original design or purpose. What aesthetic, historical, and financial values attach to such works and are those values divergent or mutually reinforcing? While ancient statuary is exhibited in fragments, what is the display value of more recent works that have not benefitted from restoration? For some collectors, prints pulled from cancelled plates are prized objects, while, for others, such works are considered counterfeit. Artists complain of failures to maintain the condition of public art that no longer meets their original conception and, in some cases, recommend destruction of that work. Such examples problematize the values that attach to the material qualities of art objects and the ways in which such qualities relate to artistic intention and audience expectations throughout time. This session asks why some works have been considered worthy of restoration while others have been ignored? Might the preservation of damage to an object have evidential value that outweighs the restoration of that object’s material appearance? From the activities of the Salvage Art Institute to the exhibition of paintings and sculptures marred by war, accident, or neglect, this session uses the concept of damage to investigate values that attach to the production, display, preservation, and financial value of artworks.

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Claire Donovan (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge) Cuts and Cuttings: Values revisited

Kathryn Brown (Loughborough University) Broken Relations: Degas, Manet, and The Execution of Maximilian

Natalie Nicolaides (Independent Scholar) Proof of Life Through Death by Fire