Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Two Faked up Antiquities (Digitally) Dissected

The effects of the no-questions-asked approach to antiquities, an object bought by the Chicago art museum in 1898 was totally faked up (as a relief) by the art market from a fragment of a Hadriaic bust. Ray Johnson spotted the other half, totally faked up in the collection of the Museo Nazionale Romano in Rome’s Palazzo Altemps. This sculpture in Rome had been restored with a new face at some point in its history (as noted in 1756, by Johann Joachim Winckelmann). Both are of unknown provenance.

There is a video explaining in rather dumbdown terms (if you know your ancient history a bit better than the film assumes, you can safely skip the bit from here to here.) how they sorted out the mess produced by the less salubrious dealings of the art market. of the Grand Tour period.

posted on You Tube by The Art Institute of Chicago

Note how brutally the restorers cut the piece about.The 'art market' is not much better in itys dealings with the objects it claims to protect today - which are still divorced from the information about their collecting histories. The film says that the "antiquities collections are not dead collections", which is pretty ridiculous when it is precisely the antiquities collecting which has been killing the information content of items like this. Where was it found, in what kind of context was this item used and displayed, by whom and why? Was this private art or public art" What happened to it after the decline of the Antonine dynasty? Since it was collected in an 'ungrounded' form, we will have no chance of ever knowing.


David Knell said...

I found the single word "killing" isolated at the end of your post slightly disturbing, Paul. Was that a reference to what the art trade does to archaeology or something more sinister? :)

Paul Barford said...

Subliminal, David. My inner demons? Either that, or a word went astray in my little editing window. Gone now.

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