Quote of the Day

Now is the time to heal the monument's wounds with the return of the marbles to where they belong.

Karolos Papoulias, Hellenic Republic president

January 9, 2005

The Venus De Milo – The French Elgin Marbles?

Posted at 7:27 pm in Similar cases

In the early 19th century, during & after the Napoleonic wars there was a fierce rivalry between the French & British to prove who was the superior country.
With the British acquisition of the Elgin Marbles, France had no comparable landmark artwork that could be perceived as equivalent.
A new book documents the acquisition, as well as how it was more recently realised to be of a later date than first thought & therefore not of such artistic significance.

From:
The Sunday Times

The Sunday Times – Books
January 09, 2005

Art: The Story of the Venus de Milo by Gregory Curtis
REVIEWED BY FRANK WHITFORD
DISARMED: The Story of the Venus de Milo
by Gregory Curtis

Sutton £19.99 pp247

Although armless and made of marble, the Venus de Milo was once regarded as the model of female physical perfection. Today, however, we would probably find her waist too thick, and her bust too big. At 6ft 7in, she is also too tall. Nevertheless, she remains one of the world’s most famous sculptures and, apart from the Mona Lisa, the world’s most well-known representation of a woman.
Read the rest of this entry »

December 24, 2004

Lord Duveen

Posted at 9:20 am in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

It would be no exaggeration to say that Lord Duveen made a huge contribution to the British art world in the 20th century. Not only was he responsible for the funding of numerous galleries, but his methods of dealing in artworks largely defined the way that the art market operates today.
However, with his wealth & power he was free to inflict his own opinions on how things ought to be done & people desperate for the money would often ignore other ethical concerns in their pursuit of his funding. This is what happened during the building of the Duveen Gallery at the British Museum, where his insistence on whitening the sculptures to match his view of how they should look lead to the Elgin Marbles cleaning controversy in the 1930s.
A recent biography & play look at the life of the greatest collector of the 20th century.

From:
Haaretz.com

Thu., December 23, 2004 Tevet 11, 5765
Buying high, selling higher
By Michael Handelzalts
Taking advantage of the fact that Europe had art and America had money, art dealer Joseph Duveen became a legend in his time and created, almost single-handedly, the collections of the great U.S. museums. A recent biography and a new play shed light on his dramatic and colorful life.

Even now, at the outset of the third millennium, after September 11 and after the world’s stock exchanges have crashed more than once, some works of art – those that turn up occasionally and are not in museums – continue to command prices of hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in auctions. However, most of the sales are made by the large auction houses and the buyers insist on anonymity. In the midst of all this, the art dealer, who brokers between price and soul and knows how to turn a picture into money, remains in the shadows. It is doubtful whether, other than in the auction house and the circles of anonymous collectors, there is a character as gargantuan and colorful as Joseph Duveen (1869-1939), who dominated the international art market in the first half of the 20th century.
Read the rest of this entry »

December 12, 2004

Tatoulis balks at Acropolis costs

Posted at 5:54 pm in Acropolis

He might have accepted that the Acropolis Museum is now going to be built, despite his earlier opposition to the project. However, Petros Tatoulis the Deputy Culture Minister is still unhappy with the amount that is being spent on the restoration of the Acropolis monuments.

From:
Kathimerini

Saturday December 11, 2004
Tatoulis balks at Acropolis costs

Confirming reports of funding cuts for the Acropolis conservation and restoration work, the Culture Ministry said yesterday that budgeting for the marathon project had to be “rationalized” and rendered “credible.”

Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, who is on a visit to Albania, said he was unhappy with the planning and budgeting by archaeologists and architects leading the massive project — which started in 1975.
Read the rest of this entry »

December 6, 2004

Elgin marbles would have been well preserved if Elgin had left them in Athens

Posted at 10:28 pm in Elgin Marbles

Despite the claims of many of those who want to retain the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum, the assessment of Anthony Snodgrass of Cambridge University is that the newly cleaned sculptures that remained in Athens are better preserved than those in London.

From:
ABC (Australia)

Elgin Marbles dispute takes new twist
Rossella Lorenzi
Discovery News
Monday, 6 December 2004

The battle over the Elgin Marbles, one of the oldest international cultural disputes, has taken another turn as a distinguished Cambridge scholar says the sculptures would have been just fine if Lord Elgin had left them in Athens.

Following a sophisticated 11-year conservation program in Athens, the 14 slabs that Lord Elgin did not manage to remove are now showing surprisingly bright original details.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 29, 2004

The Acropolis Museum

Posted at 12:48 am in New Acropolis Museum

An exhibition at the Acropolis Studies centre in Athens at the front of the site of the New Acropolis Museum offers an interesting insight into the new museum before it is completed. Not only does it show models & information about the museum itself, but also exhibits some of the artefacts that will be displayed in the museum as well as the new & innovative way in which the artefacts will be exhibited.
Although the Parthenon Marbles are the centrepiece around which Tschumi’s design for the museum is based, they are only part of a much larger collection of artefacts from a range of periods that will be on display there.

From:
Artdaily.com

Monday, November 29, 2004
The New Acropolis Museum – Designing a New Approach
ATHENS, GREECE.- A new museum at the foot of Acropolis, to hold all the incomparable material found on that venerable site -sculptures, inscriptions, architectural fragments, portable antiquities and others- is being designed for a long time. It’s the New Museum of the Acropolis. Not long before this ambitious plan becomes an accomplished fact, the Organization for the Construction of the New Acropolis Museum shows a little something of what we’ll see and presents a model of the Museum, along with 34 original works, which are going to be accommodated in it. The exhibition lasts until December 31, 2004.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 27, 2004

New book recreates Parthenon Marbles as a single entity

Posted at 10:19 pm in Elgin Marbles

At present it is impossible to see the surviving Parthenon Sculptures in their entirety in a single place. A new book combines photos of them to replicate as closely as possible how the complete surviving set would look.

From:
Kathimerini

Saturday November 27, 2004
Book recreates Parthenon Marbles as a single entity
Let’s be thankful for small mercies! The Parthenon sculptures have returned from the British Museum in London and some others from the Louvre in Paris to join their few remaining counterparts in Greece, until now in the Acropolis Museum, to bask in the sunshine on the Parthenon itself!

Not yet a reality, this scenario is presented in a faithfully illustrated book by Ephesus Publications. For Helbi, who firmly believes the return of the Parthenon sculptures is only a matter of time, this book is a step in the right direction. The foreign public has already been convinced it is time for them to return. The British Museum has had them long enough. As our readers are only too well aware, all that is needed is the completion of the new Acropolis Museum so that the sculptures will be in sight of the Parthenon, one of UNESCO’s 10 World Monuments.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 25, 2004

High quality of the marbles that Elgin left behind

Posted at 7:03 pm in Elgin Marbles

The British Museum argued that by taking the marbles off the Parthenon, Elgin was acting as a preservationist, saving them from certain destruction. The good condition of the marbles that he left behind on the Parthenon suggest otherwise however.

From:
The Times (London)

November 25, 2004
Sharp relief of the marbles Elgin left behind
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

AN EMINENT Cambridge scholar who is campaigning for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece has produced evidence to challenge long-standing claims that they were saved by being brought to Britain.

Anthony Snodgrass, Laurence Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology at Cambridge University, said that the British Museum’s Marbles now pale against those which Elgin did not manage to remove from Greece. Original details that are absent from the British Museum’s creamy-white sculptures are now visible for the first time in the warm brown Greek figures that have emerged after an 11-year conservation programme in Athens.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 21, 2004

Lecture at Kings College, London on the restoration of the Propylaea

Posted at 1:42 am in Acropolis

The colossal task of restoring the Acropolis can be split down into a number of smaller projects focussing on the individual buildings within the site. Dr Tassos Tanoulas who is in charge of the restoration of the Propylaea (the gateway building through which you pass to enter the Acropolis) is speaking in London about the part of the restoration work that he has overseen.

From:
Kathimerini

Saturday November 20, 2004
King’s College London to host lecture on history and restoration of the Propylaea by Dr Tassos Tanoulas

This Monday, November 22 at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Strand Campus of King’s College London, the Greek Archaeological Committee (UK), with its president Matti Egon, a founding member, and her husband Nicholas, is presenting a lecture by Dr Tassos Tanoulas, the architect in charge of the project of restoring the Propylaea, which the Culture Ministry began in 1982.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 19, 2004

An alternative interpretation of the meaning of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 2:40 pm in Elgin Marbles

Robert Bowie Johnson Jr.’s new book claims to unlock the hidden meaning behind the sculptures of the Parthenon sculptures. Unfortunately if it is anything like his previous book “Athena & Eden” it will be more a case of post-rationalising his own interpretation onto the sculptures as a means of projecting his own viewpoint. Thereby presenting an interpretation not seen in any other books on the subject.
I would not personally recommend that you buy this book, unless you also read some other books on the subject such as those by Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlof & Jennifer Neils amongst others.

From:
PR Newswire

New Book Decodes Greek Myth/Art, Meaning of Parthenon Sculptures

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ — Those ancient Greek “myths” we
learned about in school, it turns out, weren’t myths at all, but rather the
history of the human race told from the Greeks’ unique religious standpoint.
The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble, by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr.,
newly-released from Solving Light Books, decodes Greek myth and deciphers the
meaning of the sculptures of Athena’s ancient temple, the Parthenon.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 18, 2004

Plunder of Pakistan’s archaeological sites

Posted at 2:30 pm in Similar cases

The author of this article, reflects on the destruction of many of Pakistan’s archaeological sites & how perhaps the viewpoint that the works would be better preserved in foreign museums is a valid one.
This argument is often put forward by the British Museum, but in many ways should not apply to cases such as the Elgin Marbles, with Greece being as much a western country as Britain is.
Another bigger problem that I have with this argument however, is the suggestion in it that the countries who have lost their artworks to western museums & collectors had some element of choice in the matter, or that there was a level of discussion about how the artefacts could best be preserved. The reality however is that in many cases collectors greedily took whatever they could & then later sold it to museums in the west. There was no consensus that this was the best approach, nor did any unbiased international body ever appoint the museums to carry out this task. They are (in my personal opinion) merely using this argument to try & post-rationalise their earlier misdemeanours, based on events that have happened in these countries after the artefacts were taken (or in some cases, based on events that might possibly happen, but that have not.)

From:
Daily Times (Pakistan)

Thursday, November 18, 2004
LETTER FROM LONDON: Squandering our patrimony
Irfan Husain

There has been a long debate about the right of ex-colonial powers to keep the antiquities they carried off with them from around the world. The counter-argument is that at least people can see historical objects at museums in London, Paris and New York. Had they stayed in their places of origin, they would probably have been stolen and kept in private collections

Last week, this newspaper carried a story about the plunder of our archaeological sites. Based on a report published in The Times of London, the account told us how 90 percent of Pakistan’s historical sites had been (and are) wide open to robbers who have been digging up rare and valuable artefacts and smuggling them out of the country. Many of these pieces end up in London’s antiquity market.
Read the rest of this entry »

Former Australian PM calls for return of Elgin Marbles

Posted at 2:00 pm in Elgin Marbles

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Frazer, has been speaking in New Zealand about why he feels the Elgin Marbles should be returned.

From:
The New Zealand Herald

Fraser says to return Elgin marbles
18.11.2004

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser yesterday sought the support of New Zealand parliamentarians in urging the British Government to return the Parthenon marbles to Greece.

Know as the Elgin Marbles, half of the figures of the Parthenon have been in Britain since they were sawn off the ancient monument in 1801 by the seventh Earl of Elgin, Bruce Thomas.
Read the rest of this entry »

November 14, 2004

The official Greek position on the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 2:05 pm in Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Following the change of government in Greece earlier this year, their has been some confusion about exactly what the position of the new government is regarding the return of the Elgin Marbles, as when in opposition they attempted to obstruct the construction of the New Acropolis Museum.
This press release helps to clarify the importance that the ND government place on the return of the sculptures to Greece.

From:
Hellenic Ministry of Culture

The official Greek position on the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles to Athens

Interview excerpt Kostas Karamanlis, Prime Minister

“Culture is a social investment because the world needs values and humanity”

Journalist: Is it meaningful to continue the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles with the same passion, when the British appear negative toward our request, or would it be wiser to change our tactics and start negotiations in a different manner?
Read the rest of this entry »