Proto-Histories of Art: Art Conservation as Embedded Theory
Alexander Nagel and Noemie Etienne
This course reviews the practical remanaging, reframing, replacement, and restoration of works of art in Europe from the Middle Ages to the foundation of modern museums in the 18th and 19th centuries. Our premise is that these practices offer material testimony, practical thinking concerning the status and historicity of art from the centuries that preceded the development of the discipline of Art History. Past art conservation practices, we propose, are forms of embedded theories of art, ones that need to be excavated from beneath the more familiar modern theories that have founded our discipline. We concentrate on works of art in local collections where possible.