From Restoration to Redemption

Luke J Kallberg


I argue that apart from special circumstances, works of art cannot be restored since any change to the work’s aesthetic properties entails a change in the work’s identity. I argue that in a “restoration,” the work’s aesthetic properties are changed since (as I argue) the historical and authorial properties of a work are aesthetic properties. But I further argue that it is entirely possible for the new work created in a “restoration” to have greater aesthetic value than did the original work. This is because of the richer aesthetic impact that the work can possess in virtue of the more evocative story attached to it. In such a case, I argue that the damage or deterioration that necessitates the “restoration” is actually redeemed as it is incorporated as aesthetic properties into a greater work than what existed before. I illustrate my arguments and claims with numerous historical examples.


John Ruskin; Eugene Viollet-le-Duc

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