Conservation-Restoration Education in Ukraine

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Monday 9 August 2010, by Icon Network


by Tetyana Tymchenko and Valentyna Volnyevicz

Today the Sub-faculty of Technique and Restoration of Art Works at the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture trains experts in two lines: "restoration of easel painting works" and "restoration of sculpture and decorative-applied art works". The training lasts 6 years, during 5 of which the students draw and paint human figures from life. For those students who are trained in restoration of works of decorative art the basic preparation is that of the sculptor. The students of the restoration department as well as all other students of the Academy study history of world art, aesthetics, history of culture. Besides a number of special disciplines giving an opportunity to conduct research and to document the restoration process is taught.

The educational plan is subdivided into the following cycles: _. General disciplines in humanities (1328 academic hours). _. Special disciplines in science and humanities (1370 ac.h.): history of art, special subjects for students of the restoration department: introduction to restoration (history, methodology, theory, documentation); applied chemistry and physics; chemical and optical-physical methods of research; biology and biological methods of research; special photography of works of art; iconography, palaeography. _. Professional art and restoration training (5131 ac.h.). This includes: basic art education: academic drawing and painting (or sculpture); artistic anatomy, perspective; technique and technology of materials of painting (or sculpture and decorative-applied art); copying of classical painting, wood-carving; restoration of easel painting works or sculpture and decorative-applied art. The study of the icon-painting technique (egg tempera) i voluntary. _. For the students who pass the entrance examinations, the education is free-of-charge and they receive scholarships. For those who fail, the fee-paying form of training is suggested (1200 USD per year for citizens of Ukraine; 3000 USD for citizens of other countries). The training lasts 6 years; the students of the 2nd year start practising restoration; the students of the 6th year prepare their degree thesis. The students of 1st -5th years have summer practice (2.5 months) each year at the sub-faculty or in restoration and museum institutions.

Degree thesis on "restoration of painting" is defended on the basis of executed restoration of two objects of painting (on wooden and canvas support) and a prepared copy from a piece of classical painting. Degree thesis on "restoration of sculpture and decorative-applied art works" requires executed restoration of three art objects (from metal, ceramics and organic materials or textile) and a prepared copy of one of them. Recently students were given the opportunity to receive a degree "Master of Restoration". For this degree they should defend not only a degree thesis, but also a special research paper. This paper should contain results of the in-depth research into technology, technique and stylistics of an object, crowned with its detailed attribution. For such students the special course "Expertise and Attribution of Works of Art" is offered.

The training of the students takes place in educational workshops, under the guidance of instructors. They restore objects from museums and private collections of Ukraine, and also from the experimental collection of sub-faculty. Students engaged in "restoration of easel painting works" master restoration of works on supports of wood and canvas - rarely of cardboard and metal - painted in oil or tempera. The most numerous group of objects are icons - Russian and Ukrainian. The Ukrainian icon from 17th - 18th century differs from the Russian one in technology and stylistics. It often contains a wooden frame of complex configuration. The coat of paint of Ukrainian icons is less resistent to influence of the solvents and glues. The specific features of technology of the Ukrainian icon require special methods of conservation and restoration.

A significant part of the restored objects constitute works of secular painting on canvas from 18th - 20th century. During training the tasks become more and more complicated and the more complex methods of conservation (consolidation of a support, ground, paint coat; reinstatement of the broken connection between layers; completion of losses of support and ground; picture’s lining on canvas or strips, and in rare cases transferring onto the new support); revelation (extraction of previous retouching, cleaning; reducing, smoothing, extraction of surface coating of a varnish or drying oil); aesthetic reintegration (completion of paint-losses by neutral tone or with partial/complete reconstruction of colour and form; making of copy-reconstruction). Traditionally natural glues are preferred, but synthetics adhesives are also being applied. The students mastering "restoration of sculpture and decorative-applied art works", study technology of works of metal, ceramics, glass, canvas, organic materials. During the process of restoration control at a micro-level is applied. The restoration documentation is kept. The works are investigated in various types of lighting, by micro-examination, in ultra-violet, infra-red and x-ray zones of a spectrum; with the help of micro-chemical analysis, stratigraphy and mycological analysis. The students master qualitative micro-chemical reactions, make microsections of paint layers. If possible the initial attribution of works of art is specified.

In recent years the Academy has suggested the opportunity to prepare and defend dissertations for the academic degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Art History or in Architecture History) in the field of restoration. The graduates of Technique and Restoration of Art Works Sub-faculty work in many restoration and museum institutions of Ukraine and also abroad (in Russia, USA, France, Poland, Austria, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Finland). Citizens of Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Cyprus, Ghana and Syria were among the students of the sub-faculty and students from Spain worked as interns. Beside the Kyiv Academy, higher education in restoration in Ukraine can be obtained in the Kharkiv Fine Art and Industrial Academy and Lviv Academy of Fine Arts. The educational programs basically coincide with the program of National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture (Kyiv). Term of training is 6 years.

The specialised restoration education can also be received at the Ivan Trush Lviv College of Decorative and Applied Art. The program of education resembles the program of higher education. Term of training is 6 years. Restoration of easel painting on support of wood and canvas in oil or tempera is studied. The results of restoration of one work of painting on support of wood or canvas serve as a degree thesis. Restorers with specialised education have advantages in getting jobs in restoration and museum institutions. Besides they have some privileges at certification. Restorers both with and without special education work in the restoration organisations of Ukraine. There remains an opportunity to become a restorer in the "old" way: by training in a restoration workshop and internship under the guidance of experts (that is necessary for acquiring the qualifications of a restorer). Among research restoration institutions of Ukraine there is one that can be considered a part of the system of restoration education as its experts carry out scheduled training (by internship) of restorers from other institutions and the following supervision of their work. This is the National Research Restoration Centre of Ukraine (oldest inter-museum organisation of Ukraine founded in Kyiv in 1938). Besides, the control over the work of the restorers of different establishments of Ukraine is carried out by Commission on Certification of the artists-restorers of Ukraine. The Commission includes experts from Kyiv, Lviv, Moscow and St. Petersburg.