Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Art Surgery

The purpose of the Art Surgery is to provide expert opinion and diagnosis for works of art brought into the surgery by their owners. The designation ‘works of art’ is whatsoever might be deemed a work of art by the possessor, and it is not the intention of surgery practitioners to assert any a priori definition. That said, practitioners do reserve the right, upon inspection, to make such a distinction between what they (as experts) regard to be art and what they consider fails to obtain the requisite criteria to qualify as such.

It is not the intention of practitioners to engage over-much with the owners of said works of art. Aside from a perfunctory enquiry into the context, conditions of display, and provenance of the objects, attention will be fully given over to an examination of the work itself – it’s physical, psychological, aesthetic and semiotic order (or disorder). For these purposes a team of specialists will be on call in order to deal with particular issues which the main practitioners deem worthy of referral. (Although see under section ‘notes and quotes’ in ‘Theories and Concepts’, next post, coming soon)


Bal and Bryson (and Baxandall) have written about the notion of a period-specific semiotic analysis, while doubt has been thrown on the very idea of such a proposition by poststructuralists such as Derrida (context being in itself, subject to consideration as a ‘text’). Our position as Art health experts is to use semiotic analysis as a diagnostic and prescriptive tool and to look, not into the past, but into the future. In this way then, semiotics will be employed much as the genetic code has been proposed for use: as a means of determining and assisting future health (or future possible contexts).



Although we do offer some rudimentary re-touching service at the surgery, if the team feels that further analysis of the structural, physical and chemical make-up of the artwork is required, we will refer the work to our restoration specialist Stig Evans

Psychoanalysis/therapeutic responses

It is of course possible that the kind of analysis required in relation to the artwork will be of a psychological rather than physical or discursive nature


Scanner, monitor, tuning fork (see Mitchell on Nietzsche, p. 8 “What do pictures want?”)


Pictures, paintings photographs, buildings

Specialisms (so far)

Aesthetics: Tom Hickey

Restoration: Stig Evans

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