The time that divides the origin of the object from the present, and the distancing from the art object that the theory-ridden art historical approach often brings with it create problems in understanding the object. Here, technical art history can function as a translator of a work of art for the contemporary audience.
The knowledge it provides about how a work of art is made, what materials it consists of and its technical construction not only helps us to preserve artworks in the most efficient way but often provides fruitful material for interpreting them, as well as for understanding artistic intentions.
On the one hand, the fast technical developments that we see today but also the acknowledgement of relativism and subjectivism as inherent in humanitarian research have promoted the extensive use of scientific research methods in art history study. From the very beginning, this approach has also been criticized for claiming to offer objective true knowledge of what objects are, i.e. taking an analysis at face value and relying too much on the competence of the expert who interprets it.
However, the terms “technical investigation”, “technical study” and “technical art history” do not denote the same thing. Technical art history unites scientific study with art historical knowledge and expertise: it takes an art object as its main point of interest, also using it as a primary source for its (contextual) investigation.
The Art Museum of Estonia will publish a special theme issue in the series of its proceedings dedicated to technical art history. For contributions, we welcome both object-based case studies that demonstrate technical art history in practice and more theoretical approaches to the theme.
Abstracts (max. 400 words) should be sent to the editor of the issue, Greta Koppel (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 1 October 2011. The notification deadline is 1 January 2012. Selected papers will be published in Estonian, English and German in the peer-reviewed academic journal Eesti Kunstimuuseumi toimetised / Proceedings of the Art Museum of Estonia / Schriften des Estnischen Kunstmuseums.
The editorial board includes: Dr. Kristiana Abele (Institute of Art History of the Latvian Academy of Art, Riga); Natalja Bartels (Research Institute of Theory and History of the Arts of the Russian Academy of Arts, Moscow), Dr. Dorothee von Hellermann (Maastricht), Sirje Helme (Art Museum of Estonia, Tallinn); Dr. Ludmilla Markina (State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow), Dr. Piotr Piotrowski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan) and Kadi Polli (Art Museum of Estonia – Kadriorg Art Museum, Tallinn).
For enquiries and further information please contact: Greta Koppel (email@example.com)