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Kintsukuroi (or kintsugi) is the Japanese technique of repairing broken ceramic pots using a lacquer with gold powder.


Freer Gallery of Art

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At Freer, Aesthetic Is Simply Smashing Blake Gopnik

Broken is better than new Metafilter thread

A repaired pot is often considered to be more beautiful than it was before being damaged.


Photographers often hone their craft, trying to achieve perfection.

Most often, this serves their photographs.

Sometimes, though, imperfection may serve the photograph better.

Julia Margaret Cameron

Dr. Alison Nordström, George Eastman House's senior curator of photographs and director of exhibitions, wrote about the glass plate that Julia Margaret Cameron printed despite it being cracked.

"I think one of the reasons photographs are so seductive is that the images look like truth and it is really easy to forget that they are not," Nordström said. "The thingness of these photographs is something we can all delight in, enjoy and appreciate. But there can also be a lot of information in the material qualities of the photograph."

Nordström chose the Julia Margaret Cameron photograph for Ideas in Things because it is printed from a broken plate and serves to remind exhibition visitors she was working with glass negatives. "But the marks of the broken plate, the shatter marks in the glass are evident in the print," Nordström said. "And that is really beautiful. We appreciate the pleasures of ruins."

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Below, Sappho was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Here's the print enlarged showing the cracked plate.



Sally Mann

Sally Mann uses the wet plate collodion process.

She embraces the defects that occur when coating glass plates, exposing, and developing them, all within a few minutes.