About Art

I bet you’ve seen these pictures already:

A combination of three documents provided by the Centre de Estudios Borjanos on August 22, 2012 shows the original version of the painting Ecce Homo (L) by 19th-century painter Elias Garcia Martinez, the deteriorated version (C) and the restored version by an elderly woman in Spain. AFP PHOTO/ CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS BORJANOS
A combination of three documents provided by the Centre de Estudios Borjanos on August 22, 2012 shows the original version of the painting Ecce Homo (L) by 19th-century painter Elias Garcia Martinez, the deteriorated version (C) and the restored version by an elderly woman in Spain. AFP PHOTO/ CENTRO DE ESTUDIOS BORJANOS
(Text and image from The Toronto Sun)

In case you hadn’t seen them before, this is a painting of Jesus that is over a century old. It became water damaged and some lady decided to restore it. The result of her efforts can be seen in that last picture there — it’s ruined. I’m sure that the woman who wanted to restore the painting had good intentions, that is evidenced by the fact she turned herself in once she realised (far, far too late) that she wasn’t making the painting better, but the fact is it’s ruined.

This painting was created 102 years ago by a man named Elias Garcia Martinez. It is his art. His creation. And now it’s been destroyed. I find that incredibly sad. The lady who attempted to restore Ecce Homo wasn’t working on a reproduction or a copy but on the original painting. The original painting. And it is very likely damaged beyond recovery.

If someone did that to my art, no matter how wonderful their intentions might be, I would be devastated.

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15 thoughts on “About Art

  1. You have to look at the big picture. This was a small church in Spain, the original artist’s work was virtually unknown outside this village. The original painting was little more than illustration work.

    This lady whose intentions were greater than her skills ended up exposing the original artist’s work to the entire world. On top of that her “restoration” has become a meme that has brought joy to millions on the internet.

    I had laughed so hard when I read the original article on FARK and saw the photoshopped versions of the little old lady’s restoration (the Mr. Bean gif is the best) I literally had tears running down my face. It made my entire day.

    I still crack up when I imagine the sheer panic that must have been going through this little old lady’s head as each brush stroke ended up going so horribly, horribly wrong. “Oh dear me… oh no, no no no… Oh this isn’t right. No this isn’t right at all… Oh me… oh no no… I didn’t think this would be so hard… oh no no no… oh Nana is gonna do time for this…”

    As an artist I have to say that if someone did this to one of my works 100 years after I’m dead I’d be pleased as punch.

    • Dude, you make some very good points. Amanda Palmer’s followers have been making some on Twitter as well. I’m not won over yet, but I am starting to see the some of the other… facets, of this situation that I may have missed before.

      Still thinkin’ it over.

    • I thought about it. A lot. I thought about what you said, and what Amanda Palmer and her followers said, and what a lot of other people have said or posted about this subject over the past week or so… and my position remains unchanged.

      I DID think about it though LOL

  2. As an artist, I think this is a sad story. I hope real art restorers can somehow restore the original image. Otherwise, outside of photos, the original art is gone forever. That’s a dreadful loss. IMHO, such a loss is nothing to laugh at or make light of like some people are doing.

    There are other ways of bringing an artist’s work to the eyes of the world than destroying it. This woman’s pathetic attempt at restoration might have been an unintentional destructive act, but it was a destructive act nevertheless. I doubt that, if he were alive today, the artist would be happy with what the attempted restoration did to his art.

    • Yeah, I think it’s a very sad story no matter how you look at it. Not least of all because the artwork became so damaged over two years that it needed restoration in the first place.

  3. Congratulations on making your W1S1 goal. It is a shame when anything good gets destroyed but life goes on and all we can do it to try to keep it from happening again.

    Keep writing.

  4. Well done on hitting your W1S1 goals for August, Rhonda!

    The damage to the painting is very sad, though i feel almost as much sadness for the lady who attempted to restore it, whose intentions were far greater than her expertise.

    • I agree with you Samuel. I truly believe that lady meant well and had only the best intentions, so to me this story is as sad for her as for the painting.

  5. Congrats on reaching your W1S1 goals!

    It is a sad story, and I hate when art is ruined. You have to wonder why this lady didn’t leave well enough alone.

    • I think she really loved the painting and felt bad watching it suffer from water damage. I believe her intentions were pure but that she sadly underestimated the difficulty of what she was planning to do.

  6. I have mixed feelings on this situation. Yes, it’s an artistic tragedy, and I’ve got to feel for the lady involved, but holy cow, maybe they’ll think twice before having an amateur restore anything else? Anyhow, way to go on reaching your August Write1Sub1 goals!

    • Thanks Milo 🙂

      The lady who attempted to restore that painting was acting without permission from anyone, but I’m pretty sure she learned her lesson and won’t try something like that again.

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