Restoring works of art : modern techniques

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A work of art transforms over time: it loses its lustre and originality, and sometimes, marks appear on it that show the wear and tear of time. When it comes time for restoration, then, a question arises: What did this work look like years ago? To answer this question, it’s necessary to give new life to the creation – quite simply, to restore it. Here’s one of the modern techniques for restoring a work of art available at USIMM.
Why restore a work of art?
It’s an essential question that needs to be asked. Restoration lets you breathe new life into a creation, but there’s more. A work of art is a means of expression for an artist looking to express their ideas through it.

That’s why restoring a work of art should be done in a thoughtful, sensitive, and intelligent way. With each restoration, it’s therefore essential to respect the soul of the work and the personality of its creator.

How to restore a work of art

The ideal restoration is the one that doesn’t transform the original work and that can be removed at any time without damaging the creation. The reversibility of the procedure was defined in this way in the ’70s. This technique involves adding little things to the work in order to make it sharper without damaging the original.

Restoration methods have evolved over time. Faster and easier, they help restore or reproduce a work.

3D scanning : a modern restoration technique

3D scanning software has become extremely powerful. It’s possible to work from a 3D object such as a sculpture or a framed work of art, regardless of the size of this object. This software is connected to non-contact scanning sensors that the expert has installed around the work. These sensors can analyze the size, volume, and texture of the object in great detail and then recreate them in the form of a 3D file on the computer. The software reproduces every detail of the original work in an extremely faithful manner. The artist can use this technique to create moulds that can be used to create several copies of the same work. It’s therefore ideal for completely reproducing or restoring a work of art if this work contains repetitive motifs requiring repairs – for example, rosettes, frames, etc.

The advantages of using 3D scanning to restore works of art

Previously, creating models required a great deal of time and money. In addition to enabling the identical reproduction of a work or a section of a work, this technique is much faster than working by hand. This technique can be practiced on works that are virtually out of reach, since the only necessary manipulation is the installation of the sensor. It’s therefore pointless to move this work around the artist’s studio and risk further damaging the work of art to be restored.

3D scanning is ideal for restoring or reproducing works of art, particularly sculptures and decorative or architectural ornaments. In the past, sculptors had to devote days, even weeks, to making models out of wax, clay, plaster, or wood. With the software and tools that are currently available, this same mould can be created in no time and used with any type of material: clay, bronze, marble, plaster, stone, etc.

This modern restoration technique helps give new life to works of art. With it, creations rediscover their original look and their full beauty.

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