Summary: Saito examines arguments concerning why artworks should be restored, which are couched in terms of a debate between “purist” and “integral/conservator” restoration. Purists believe artworks should only be cleaned, emphasizing the integrity of the material object, whereas integral restorationists are open to adding material to the work, emphasizing the integrity of the original aesthetic experience. Rather than embracing a particular side in this debate, Saito’s discussion reveals how cultural/historical considerations can be as important to the debate over restoration as aesthetic considerations.
Comment: This article offers a useful philosophical framework for thinking about the relationship among preservation, restoration, and authenticity. Using it alongside the following readings might be particularly good in inspiring further discussion: Coleman, Elizabeth Burns. “Aboriginal Painting: Identity and Authenticity.” Jeffers, Chike. “The Ethics and Politics of Cultural Preservation.” Young, James O. “Art, Authenticity and Appropriation.” Korsmeyer, Carolyn. “Real Old Things.” Karlström, Anna. “Authenticity.”