Conservation In The Art Market Essay

1630 words - 7 pages



The art, antiques and antiquities trade employs a wide range of professionals who work in very different areas of the market. It involves from finance to heritage and represents a safe asset for investments. The aim of this research project proposal is to determine the reasons of the importance of the role of the conservators and restorers in the art world. Indeed, through the restoration process and studies many doubts concerning artworks can be resolved. The latest cases in art fraud, like the recent Knoedler Gallery scandal in New York that sold a large number of fake paintings since the nineties (Cohen 2014) or the Bolton Museum fake Amarna princess which was bought by the museum in 2003 for £440,000 (Bailey 2001) the art world is getting more preoccupied about authenticity of artworks.

It is also worrying the situation of the antiquities market where the illicit trade represents almost the 80% of the whole trade. This is due to the multi billion dollar year business that the antiquities market represents (Sease 1997:50; Elia 1995:245). We can cite the Medici scandal, where through a complex international network looted antiquities were laundered by important auction houses, and bought and displayed in some of the major museums of the world (Watson and Todeschini 2006).

The study has three major objectives:

Explain why through the conservation/restoration process of an artwork and its subsequent study, the authenticity of an art piece or antiquity can be established.
Explain why and how conservators/restorers can play a very important role towards the unconvering of the illicit antiquities market
Encourage all professionals of the field in an international consensus about ethics in conservation and to work according some standards and respect towards every artwork and culture.

For the carrying out of the study many literature written about the subject will be reviewed, as well as interviews to professionals of the sector will be carried out as far as possible.

1.1. Literature Review

To study the different ways conservators can be very valuable in some aspects for the art market and the worldwide culture and heritage, some literature concerning ethical aspects of the profession and its implications for the art world will be review. For this task, publications like “The Ethics of Collecting Cultural Property. Whose Property? Whose Culture?” (1999), and “Whose Culture? A Promise of Museums and the Debate over Antiquities” (2009) amongst others, will be the base to try and set up a standard in ethics concerning the art market in general and the antiquities market specifically. These texts take different approaches towards the ethics of collecting, conserving, restoring and trading with cultural property. The aim of this section of the paper is to raise the awareness of the ethics within conservators in the whole world because it is essential for the preservation of our cultural...

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