Reconstruction of Polychromy/Restituer les couleurs
29 November - 1 December 2017

Bordeaux, France

Research on Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture, Architecture and Wall-painting: the Role of Reconstructions

Trying to recover the original aspect of ancient buildings or art works is of particular interest, both in terms of research and in terms of dissemination. Although 3D geometrical reconstruction of sculptures and architecture is already a well-established domain, there is still much to be done in terms of color reproduction. Color reproduction raises methodological problems as well as epistemological ones, which invite us to reflect on the meaning and the finality of such an approach.

Rendering the original polychromy of sculpture and architecture (external or interior) brings out a whole series of difficulties: which process should be used to measure colors or to restore their materiality? Should we prefer digital approaches to material reenactments? If so, what software should we adopt and what materials and tools should we choose? What choices can be made when faced with lacunar areas? How to proceed when the works have had several distinct and successive states of polychromy during their history? In the context of cultural mediation, how can the public be taken into account without undermining the scientific value of the approach?

This international workshop aims at answering these questions and conducting a broader reflection on the intended purpose when proposing a polychrome restitution of a given work or building. We must indeed admit that we will never be able to reproduce its original state, which is definitively lost. Asking the question “How can we restore polychromy?” raises a new question: “Whatdo you restore polychromy for?” Therefore, we will also look at the history of the restitution and the critical reception of all methods implemented.

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