On the back of his business card is a striking image: the wings of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the sculpture whose beauty he most admires. Dr. Andrzej Dajnowski, director and owner of CSOS Inc. in Forest Park, defines victory as taking a damaged work of art and conquering the ravages of time and nature.
Dajnowski works to preserve endangered works of art. The danger from the elements, pollution, even vandalism, is real, and combatting it requires tremendous care and expertise in many fields. In addition to deep knowledge of art and art history, conserving and restoring damaged artwork means having a hands-on awareness of the methods used in creating sculptures and other objects; an understanding of chemical processes used in their creation as well as those that tend toward their destruction, and constant investigation of newer, less harmful ways to undo years of damage.
Such is his life’s work. Since age 15, when he began studying art conservation at the National Lyceum of Fine Arts in Kielce, Poland, Dajnowski has learned everything he could about the cleaning and repair of a wide variety of sculptures, outdoor monuments, fountains, architectural elements and art objects of many materials. A U.S. resident since age 25, Dajnowski’s career so far includes work on historical items at, among other places, the Harvard University art museums, the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Park District. He also lectures and teaches about sculpture conservation, maintenance and graffiti removal.
Dajnowski and his team restored Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain in 2008, Oak Park’s Scoville Park World War I Monument in 2010, and replaced (more securely installed than the originals) 72 brass letters stolen by scrappers from the exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park. Fluent in Polish, English and Russian, Dajnowski continues to publish and lecture on such subjects as laser cleaning of monuments and other art objects, while working directly on a large variety of projects in his busy Forest Park studio.
Unity Temple Restoration Foundation’s “Break::the::Box” series is sponsoring a studio tour at 900 Desplaines Ave. available on Wednesday, August 29. Called “Rescue Me,” the tour is led by Dajnowski and starts at 7 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance; phone 708-383-8873, or go to www.utrf.org.