By way of introduction to the second number of the yearbook TECHNOLOGIA ARTIS allow me to give a few facts on the situation under which the Archives of Historical Art Technology came into existence. The chaotic changes in the structure of the care for ancient monuments in the eighties, implemented by non-specialists using direct political pressure, were motivated, among others, by the endeavour to reduce the sum-total of such monuments, their exploitation through sale to foreigners or by politically and economically motivated exhibitions and, as a consequence, involving a threat to them or degradation as a result of unqualified workshop restoration work by laymen. The ill-devised law 20/87 on the Care for Ancient Monuments was adjusted to these intentions.

Yet the very threat to the existence of this field had its positive aspects: it welded together the restorers and made them speak out against this ill-devised law on the Care for Ancient Monuments and formulate clear professional ethic principles, points of view and requirements of practical work and, in co-operation with other experts, finally formulate concrete legislative proposals for the protection of the cultural heritage.
The consequence was the establishment of an Association of Restorers with a membership of expert artists-restorers within the Union of Artists. The members took part in drawing up a new law on the Care for Ancient Monuments, which is ready for discussion in the Government. They further drew up a proposal for the setting up of a Chamber of Restorers, which as a professional association is to ensure the expert and qualified execution of restoration care for the cultural heritage.

Apart from the endeavour to create legislative guarantees for the protection of ancient monuments it is most important that steps be taken to intensify the work of restoration as a highly qualified profession. The first prerequisite is the establishment of a specialized scientific and technical work centre for the restoration of works of art under the Academy of Fine Arts, best in co-operation with the National Gallery; this is to help intensify the training of students and acquainting them with the most up-to-date methods of research. It is further to carry out applied research given by the needs of practical work, to test new technologies and materials and provide a service for the daily work of restorers. This project prepared by the School of Restoration of the Academy of Fine Arts and the Association of Restorers has met with the approval of the Ministers of Education and Culture, the National Gallery and the State Institute for the Care of Ancient Monuments.

A no less important step is the establishment of an Information Centre in the field, which is to assemble and publish the results of present-day scientific and technical data and of concrete achievements in restoration in the Archives of Historical Art Technology. The collaboration of the Academy of Fine Arts, the National Gallery, the Association of Restorers and the Institute for the History of Art provides a prerequisite for the high quality function of the field also in co-operation with institutes abroad.

The foundation of the Archives of Historical Art Technology must be regarded as a basic step in broadening the spread of information and the adequate presentation of the work of the Czech School of Restoration, following the far-seeing basis laid by Professor B. Slánský. Gratitude should be expressed for the foundation of the Archives of Historical Art Technology and the publication of its two yearbooks to all members of the editorial board, to contributors and participating institutions, and, in the first place, to the tireless activity of the executive editor Academic Painter Antonín Novák.

It is to be hoped that the initial difficulties associated with the establishment of the Archives of Historical Art Technology and the publication of the yearbook, and the approval of the Chamber of Restorers, the guarantee of the quality of restoration work through the issue of licences, the adoption of legislative provisions for the protection of ancient monuments by a new law
will soon be solved and that subsequently the collective of restorers, art historians and experts in other participating professions will be able to devote themselves with full intensity, each in his own field, exclusively to specialist work.

  author
Academic Painter Karel STRETTI, Professor of the School of Restoration at the Academy of Fine Arts, Prague

 




The Archives of Historical An Technology are located in the building of the Library of the Academy of Fine Arts, built according to the plans of architect Professor Jan Koťera in 1914. The stock of books of the Academy of Fine Arts goes back as far as the beginnings of this institution, first the Academy of Drawing (Kreslířská akademie), originally occupying premises in the Prague Clementinum. The first record concerning the Library comes from around 1838 – it is a list of literature dedicated to the school library by the then Director of the Academy František Tkadlík. The Library came gradually into being with the support of the Society of Patriotic Friends of the Arts.

After a transitional period when the Academy, along with the Library, was moved to the School of Applied Art (Uměleckoprůmyslová škola), built in Křižovnická street in 1884 according to the project of Schmoranz and Machytka, the nationalised Academy of Fine Arts (AVU) acquired a new building at Letná, on the edge of Stromovka Park. It was completed in 1903 according to the plan of architect Roštlapil. The present interior of the Library, completed by Professor Kotěra, has high quality internal furnishings combined with a gallery reached by a winding staircase. It is maintained in its original state as a monument to its period.


  author
PhDr Vojtěch Krob




The Council of the AHVT (Archives of Historical Art Technology) expresses its thanks to all institutions which welcomed the programme of our yearbook and expressed support for our aims:

The International Institute for Conservation of Historie and Artistic Works, London, and its regional groups,
European University Center for the Cultural Heritage, Ravello, Doerner-Institut, München,
Centraal Laboratorium van Kunst en Wetenschap, Amsterdam,
Bundesdenkmalamt, Restaurier - Werkstätten, Wien,
The Getty Conservation Institute, California,
Ministere de la Culture de la République Française, Paris, ICOM - Conseil International des Musées, Paris

and many others, in particular various galleries, museums, universities and art academies. We would also like to thank individual friends all over Europe and on the continent of America for the promotion of our project. We fully hope that the idea of international cooperation in our field - an imprint of thought on material -will be reflected in the near future in the form of the publication and the appearance of this periodical and that it will stimulate many others to study those aspects of art which usually remain outside the framework of normal conservation attention.


Council of the AHVT