Showing 1 result for the tag: Museum of Jewish Heritage.

September 28, 2010

Disputed artefacts – famous for being famous…

Posted at 9:30 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

A recurrent theme with disputed artefacts is that they end up becoming popularly known for the dispute that surrounds them rather than for what they are in their own right – that is to say that they are famous for being famous. Few would dispute that the Parthenon Marbles are far more widely discussed now than if they had remained on the Parthenon – however, this should not be confused with the claims of the British Museum & others that their acquisition popularised them. They are not well know because they are in a well known museum (the British Museum has vast amounts of artefacts that few people have heard of) but are well known because of the controversy surrounding their ownership, or other similar issues that raise them to prominence. This can manifest itself in many other ways – the Mona Lisa for instance became more famous after it was stolen, as did Evard Munch’s The Scream.

Cases such as this often make it hard to stand back & see the works for their own intrinsic artistic value, as this is overshadowed by the controversy around them – they are however two largely separate strands that combine (with others) to form the sculptures as we perceive them today. Either of these strands could be removed, but would not stand alone in the same way if it was. Far from being an excuse for the actions of people such as the Seventh Earl of Elgin however, this should be seen perhaps more as an incitement to appreciate art for what it is, rather than merely noticing it because of its fame.

Wall Street Journal

JULY 27, 2010
What Is Lost When Works are Trophies

It’s interesting to contemplate how works of art, which museums generally want us to appreciate for their aesthetic values, can turn into trophies: emblems of issues or events that have nothing to do with their status as art.

Take Egon Schiele’s “Portrait of Wally” (1912), which goes on view at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan for three weeks starting Thursday, following an out-of-court settlement of the dispute over its ownership. In 1998 it had been seized by then-Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau from a Schiele exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, to which it had been lent by Vienna’s Leopold Museum. Mr. Morgenthau was acting on behalf of the estate of Lea Bondi Jaray. The heirs of the original owner held that the painting had been stolen from her by the Nazis and therefore did not belong to the Leopold Museum. “Portrait of Wally” may not be Schiele’s most important painting, but the legal case has certainly turned it into his most famous one.
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