- Purchase/rental options available:
Considering himself the ‘‘main author’’ of the Venice Charter, Raymond M. Lemaire was then one of the first (along with Piero Gazzola) to advocate for a revision of the document. As early as 1971, the two men—the first secretary general and president of ICOMOS, respectively—launched a debate, advocating for a better consideration of the social value of heritage. They also called for the development of specific principles for the preservation of historic cities, to be included in the Venice Charter. Lemaire’s experience in that field had convinced him that, contrary to the assertion of Article 14, ‘‘a literal application of principles valid for monuments, considered as such, is not always possible, nor desirable, for the ensembles.’’ The adoption of the Amsterdam Declaration did not put an end to his efforts. Despite his unsuccessful attempt to get a revised version approved by the ICOMOS General Assembly in Moscow in 1978, Lemaire always remained critical towards the charter and the application of its principles in the field. In the 1980s, he emphasized its shortcomings in terms of cultural diversity, and in 1996 one of his last texts articulated the negative effect of Article 9, leading to the idea that ‘‘the mere essence of a conservation operation is a modernist intervention on the edifice or neighborhood.’’
Beyond its interest for preservation history, an understanding of Lemaire’s early critical position toward the Venice Charter should inspire current debates and help us overcome our reluctance to challenge the sacred principles of what we consider a doctrinal monument.