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Replication of historic art objects

 
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13772
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 5:31 pm    Post subject: Replication of historic art objects Reply with quote

Today's PBS NewsHour will include a segment on this topic during the second half-hour of the program, which should be available to most radio and TV audiences at some point this evening, or online.

The segment will apparently view the skilled recreation of damaged and destroyed artifacts in war-torn parts of the globe -- but it might have resonance for those interested in historic preservation more broadly . . .

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/

SDR
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13772
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another term for the process/result: facsimile.


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SREcklund



Joined: 26 Feb 2013
Posts: 581
Location: Redondo Beach, CA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's an interesting concept, but a slippery slope. We recently had the chance to add a high-quality reproduction of a Roman bas relief once owned by Aline Barnsdall to the contents of Hollyhock House, installing it where it once stood in the 1920s. In this context, it adds to the experience. Once scanned, however, one could make a dozen or a hundred copies, for traveling road shows or sale or whatever. That would not be so good.

I saw the PBS piece, and what they're doing seems to be more along the lines of what we did with the Roman piece on Olive Hill.
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7206

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the 1970s, the venerable Woolworth Tower by Cass Gilbert needed restoration of terra cotta on its exterior. Since the view of the top of the building is seen only from far below (in those days there were no drones), instead of replicating the damaged terra cotta at the peak, they fabricated duplicates out of aluminum colored to look like terra cotta.

The top 30 floors of the tower have been converted into 40 luxury condos, and the penthouse into a 5-story unit. I wonder if the owner bit the bullet and restored the original terra cotta tiles to please prospective tenants, who will pay premium prices for the units? The 31st floor, which includes two terraces, is on the market for $26.4M; I doubt any buyer would want phony terra cotta panels.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 13772
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huh. On the other hand, who wouldn't want sculpted aluminum decor to their sky-terrace ? As long as it wasn't crudely accomplished, it sounds like win-win to me. Was the aluminum powder-coated to the correct color(s) ?

Doesn't look too bad in the photos: http://thewoolworthtower.com

If something lost is to be replicated in material, there are endless choices; the bottom line is that some material or combination of materials must be chosen. First choice would presumably be the original kind of material -- but material is only the medium through which the designer speaks, nothing more. The romance of craft is a separate thing from the realization of form, though the one often -- in the past, at least -- implied the other. Craft is a worthy subject in its own right, but (I believe) it has always been the handmaiden of design, and not an end in itself. Makers, in days of yore, acknowledged and accepted this reality; many still do. The means of production have now expanded; different sorts of knowledge, skill, and tooling are called into play for the economical realization of design. As old skills are lost, substitutions are to be expected. Those who can afford the old ways may have them, if they choose.

I don't think owners of historic one-of-a-kind objects need to worry about full-sized replicas flooding the market. There has always been a market for look-alike repros, often at miniature scale and readily available in museum shops; cruder objects are sold by the road at historic sites. The art forgery business is one closely monitored by owners and legal authorities, with stiff penalties for transgression. It is neither cheap nor easy to accomplish what is seen in the PBS documentary -- and the objects created are not identical to the originals, in method or material.

SDR
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