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Artful History: A Restoration Comedy

A Film by Jason Simon and Mark Dion

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Works of art can offer the illusion of timeless and permanent beauty. But that illusion is often purchased at the cost of hours of work by restorers who can either save them from decay, or damage them irreparably.

A work of art may be viewed as a masterpiece, a document of the past, or a commercially valuable item. The job of the restorers - whose efforts color our perceptions of artworks - lies at the very heart of these competing views.

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Through interviews with a former restorer willing to spill the secrets of the trade, ARTFUL HISTORY offers up a rogues' gallery of dubious restoration efforts. The film includes shocking horror stories of works altered to increase their commercial value: a painting cut into three to create a triptych, a 19th- century forgery disguised so that it can be passed off as an original, antiquarian pieces of African art with limbs sawed off or limbs from other sources glued on.

But this documentary goes beyond shock value. ARTFUL HISTORY offers a thoughtful look at the world of art restoration and raises crucial questions about art, authenticity, and the tension between historical and commercial value.

"A trenchant critique, it dissects the profitable discourse that envelops fine art."- Village Voice

28 minutes / Color
Release: 1988
Copyright: 1988

For colleges, universities, government agencies, hospitals and corporations

This DVD is sold with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights.

Subject areas:
Art, Cultural Studies, Painting

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