Eleonora Vittorini Orgeas: restauration and preservation of our memory
17 December 2021
Looking at a work of art, it often happens to get excited, reflect, recall all those times in which we have seen it printed in history books. We study the life and the production of the mind that thought it up and with his hands then painted, frescoed and sculpted it. We praise the curator who has chosen to include it in an exhibition, or the museum that can boast it in its permanent collection. We photograph it without flash to be able to look at it – do we ever do it? – and share, to testify that we were right in front of that unique piece.
Our thoughts rarely go to the restorers who have allowed us to admire the beauty of that work in all its aspects, despite the eras and the signs of time that have threatened to erase it. Yet their work is essential, so that that heritage that comes from the past is protected, restored, preserved and can excite us, make us reflect, recall all the times in which we have heard it told by a professor, a documentary, a history text. It also applies to those works of which we do not know and which we discover by chance – or luck – walking down a corridor or a road that has not yet been taken.
Eleonora Vittorini Orgeas, an art restorer born in 1987 in Ascoli Piceno, was passionate about art as a child and followed a long, technical and delicate training path as that of a surgeon. With his knowledge and skills he doesn’t save human lives, but beauty, time and memory. “It is often thought that the restorer is an artist, or perhaps a craftsman, or a simple worker …”, says Eleonora. “In reality, the restorer has a technical background, because he must have great manual skills, he has a background in the field of art history, because he must know the cultural significance of the works, and then he has a great knowledge of chemistry, as well as principles of physics mechanics, which are used, for example, when two parts of a work are joined. “
After a double degree in Diagnostics of cultural heritage, first at the University of Camerino and then in Parma, followed by a five-year experience at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, with a focus on wall paintings, stone sculptures and mosaics, thanks to further investigations, Eleonora also measured herself with techniques such as that of the so-called bio-restoration, a cutting-edge method in a phase of growing experimentation in which bacteria are also used for the conservation of the works, as happened recently, again in Florence, in the case of some statues of Michelangelo by colleagues.
“Sometimes it is said that the restoration makes a work look like new again: in reality it is necessary to evoke the memory of how it could have been initially, to work on the damage by ensuring that the signs of time remain. Each restoration is in fact a challenge”, says Eleonora. In the new episode of the podcast FrameS that you can find below, we’ll discover with her what the work of a restorer really consists of, between difficulties, satisfactions and many myths to dispel.