JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 3, Article 5 (pp. 314 to 314)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 3, Article 5 (pp. 314 to 314)



The four papers that follow in this issue of the Journal deal with the topic of artist's intent, or more generally, intentionality. Intentionality, the quality of a work that evidences the purpose and design of its maker, has long been a question of critical importance to conservators, for it is central to attempts to ground our conservation decisions and scholarship in the context of the time of the work's creation as well as in the present.

Because of the subject's pivotal role in guiding conservation measures, and because it will never be resolved into a single formula applicable to all situations, the debate among conservators has been lively. The General Session of the AIC Annual Meeting in Nashville (held in 1994) was devoted to artist's intent, and that session attracted substantially more abstracts than other General Session topics in prior and subsequent AIC meetings.

Some of the papers from that session have appeared in previous issues of the Journal. The papers in this issue by Albano, Heald and Ash-Milby, Sloggett, and Swicklick offer other perspectives on the role of artist's intent in the conservation of works by specific artists or groups of artists. While each of these papers confronts and articulates more general and theoretical concerns, the authors, as they must, resolve these issues in practical terms, proposing solutions to the very real conservation dilemmas that are posed in each particular case.

Whether one chooses to agree with the analyses and ultimate decisions described here, these papers serve another critical function beyond enriching the continued debate of this subject. These essays are records of another facet of intentionality, one that might be termed conservator's intent. In documenting the analyses behind the final conservation decisions, these papers provide a critically important window on our restorations (or lack thereof) for future generations of conservators and scholars.

Debate and dialogue are no strangers to the field of conservation, particularly when the interpretive role of the conservator is the topic under discussion. It is hoped that this and perhaps future thematic issues of the Journal will be a forum for this continued inquiry.


JIM CODDINGTON is chief conservator at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He was previously at the Metropolitan Museum as a Mellon Fellow from 1984–1987 and at the Washington Conservation Studio prior to that. He was a 1981 graduate of the Winterthur/University of Delaware program and a 1974 graduate of Reed College.

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Copyright � 1998 American Institute of Historic and Artistic Works