Tuesday 20 December 2016

How the International Antiquities Trade 'Looks After' Antiquities

'Art' trade Vandalism (Getty)
A typical collectors' mantra goes that private collections curate objects that might otherwise get lost or damaged. A statue in the Getty reminds us that this is a huge oversimplification, in turning archaeological artefacts into displayable 'ancient art', all sorts of things can happen (Annelisa Stephan, 'Surprises as an Ancient Statue Is Prepped to Receive Its Missing Head', Iris December 15, 2016):
the head was in primarily European collections until 2008, when it was purchased by an American gallery [...] The head also yielded another surprise: evidence of its own beheading. The deed was accomplished by electric drill, inserted in seven places around the neck. The weakened head was then whacked off, likely using a hammer and a blunt object as a lever. Why? Perhaps an art dealer thought the head would be more saleable alone, since it’s easier to display in a living room than a two-thousand-pound statue. Judith’s research suggests that the statue still had her head as late as 1937, so the team surmises that the beheading took place between then and 1971, when the Getty Museum was offered the body for sale.

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