Primary Colors


New at Reason: Is it art, or just a guy with his pants down? Charles Paul Freund clears away the dust.


NEXT: Spin the Spinner and Call the Shots

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  1. Interesting Tim, I hadn’t really thought about this issue before. My wife owns a few small but very elegant statues and I clean them about once a month because they are less pleasing to the eye covered in a layer of dust. At least to me anyway. Eye of the beholder I guess?


  2. If the statue of David still represents Michelangelo’s David following the acid bath in 1843, there’s no argument. However, I am sure there will be critics amongst the generation that once again cleans and restores David another 160 years from now. In the meantime, the generations in between will continue to admire the works of Michelangelo.

  3. I remember when the Sistine Chapel was done, and all these snooty art lovers were weeping. It seems generations of young art majors were taught to love the muted browns. They in turn grew up to write their own thesis on the genius of the subtle coloring. I got a big laugh seeing these academia art snobs being forced to confront the fact that they had been worshiping the dirt all along.

    As for the Last Supper, it was destroyed long ago. Often damaged by efforts to save it, the most recent restoration was as good as it could have been (working carefully and using the best techniques available) but there just isn’t much left of it. This is mostly due to the Da Vinci’s (horrendous) decision to paint on dry plaster. I am of the opinion that Da Vinci is way over rated. He was an excellent artist but he gets credit for scientific and engineering understanding that he was just clueless about. No it’s not true he would have invented the helicopter if only he had an engine. His understanding of flight, like his understanding of anatomy, while highly developed was fundamentally flawed.

    I wish them luck with Mike’s Dave. It’d be a hoot if they discovered that his dinky was glued on in the middle-ages 🙂 I’ll be interested to read about their methods and see the results.

  4. I always thought it was interesting that when we think of classical Greek sculpture and archtecture, we think of pristine white marble stuff. Actually most of it was painted – rather loudly – sometimes the statues had eyes made of semiprecious stones in an attempt to look life-like.

  5. Dude,

    Reminds me of the story of the Arab who purchased a Beverly Hills mansion, complete with faux Greek marble nudes around the swimming pool and gardens. He promptly had them painted to be more lifelike, including pubic and armpit patches. This elicited outrage from neighbors and landscape architects alike, until a historian pointed out that the originals quite probably had their own bushy spots painted on as well.

  6. “I am of the opinion that Da Vinci is way over rated…”

    Okay Warren, let’s see your notebooks. Pretty cool that you’ve developed the basic mechanics for the hyperdrive subsonic exfoilianating jumbo super triple camshaft time machine, 400 years before its time. The 25th century thanks you.

  7. Philistine that I am, I always thought art should be viewed as the artist intended. Clean the bugger up for Christ’s sake.

  8. How is this any different from polishing the Statue of Liberty to its original gleaming copper?

    Dust daily with a very soft duster. Anything that doesn’t come off should stay.

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