How monuments serve as core to city development and their importance

Values of monuments and Their Historical Development

This article focuses on the importance of monuments and takes valuable points given by Alois Riegl, an Austrian art historian, and is considered a member of the Vienna School of Art History. He was one of the most influential figure who talked about art history as a self-sufficient academic discipline, and one of the prominent experts of formalism.

A monument in its oldest and most original sense is a work of man erected for the specific purpose of keeping particular human deeds or destinies alive and present in the consciousness of future generations. There have been different form of cities and city structures. Studies of cities have caught attention of many scholars from past century, one of such important city development model is Concentric Zone Model given by Ernest Burgess. The model kept the central business district in center which was the prominent point for an urban area. Similarly there have been other city structures which had founding development around them.

One such example is to have cities built around a monument or some other special structure.  Such “deliberate” monuments which can traced back to the earliest documented periods of human culture, have all come to a halt today. When we speak of the modern cult of monuments or historical preservation, we rarely think of monuments in deliberation, rather we think of “artistic and historic monuments”. The transformation of seeing a monument in deliberation to artistic and historic value is what that interests us when it comes to historical preservation of the monuments.

“Historic value” of a monument is the representation of a particular works of art form that have existed during particular periods of human cultures and has no equivalent replacement that can be found in current modern context. When it comes to “artistic values” of a monument it correspond to any tangible, visible or audible work of man. It is important to differentiate the both since it influences the decisions of historical preservation of monuments in a decisive way. The preservation of monuments must certainly take into account its contemporary value along with the commemorative value. Historical monuments are therefore unintentional in contrast to the deliberative monuments and as we perceive it as a modern viewer it hold a commemorative value, which we prefer to restore as a part of historical preservation.

The Relationship of commemorative Values to the Cults of Monuments

Commemorative begins with the discussion of Age Value, which largely contributes to the modern cults of monuments.

Age Value

Age Value is perceived by the modern man as the natural cycle of growth and decay of those erected work of man. “Signs of decay disturbs us just as sign of new production in old works”. Monuments, which exhibit such signs of decay, receive aesthetic satisfaction not from the stasis of preservation but from the continuous and unceasing cycle of change in nature. Hence while we consider age value as a commemorative value to the cults of monuments it condemns human interference with nature’s lawful activity of disintegration on behalf of a monument’s preservation, but in principle it condemns every effort of conservation, restoration that is direct opposition to the preservation of monuments.

Age value has one advantage over all other ideal values of the work of art: It claims to address everyone, to be valid for everyone without exception, addresses the emotions directly; it revels to the viewers through the most superficial, sensory (visual) perception.

Historic Value

A monument’s historic value increases the more it remains uncorrupted and reveals its original state of creation: distortion and partial disintegration are disturbing, unwelcoming ingredients for historic value. Historic value is not concerned with the preservation of age or other changes caused by nature’s impact since the time the monument was created, rather, historic value is far more concerned with preserving the most genuine document possible for future restoration and historical research. Thus the cults of historic values are aimed at preservation of monuments in its present state.

Deliberate Commemorative Value

In contrast to age value, which appreciate the past for its own sake, historic value has had the tendency to select a particular moment from the developmental history of the past and to place it before our eyes as if it were part of present, the purpose of deliberate commemorative value is to keep a moment from becoming history, to keep it perpetually alive and present in the consciousness of future generations.

Use Value& Present Day Value

  A monument in use in the present day receives a completely different treatment for its preservation, i.e. the monument has to be maintained in good condition so as to put it to use without endangering the lives of people using it.

Most monuments are also able to satisfy those sensory and intellectual desires of man that could as well be met by modern creations; and the potential, for which the monument was erected and on which its commemorative value is derived, is also the basis for its present day value.

Newness Value

 Newness value for a monument is obtained from the restoration of its form or colour making it look like a newly created work. It works in complete contradiction to the age value, yet it appeals majority of the masses. Thus newness value has always been the art value of the mass majority of the less educated or uneducated; whereas relative art value, at least since the beginning of more recent times, could only be evaluated by the aesthetically educated. The masses have always been pleased by everything that appears new; in works of man they wished to see only the creativity triumphant effect of human power and not the destructive force of nature’s power, which is hostile to work of man.

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