Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Keros and Katonah

At the end of 2006 the Katonah Museum of Art hosted an exhibition, "Ancient Art of the Cyclades".

It was noted, "It is only the fourth museum exhibition in the United States devoted to Cycladic art, and only the second to draw exclusively on objects in American collections".

Christopher Chippindale and I have discussed in detail elsewhere the material and intellectual consequences of collecting Cycladic figures. And the museum was clearly aware of the issues.

Neil Watson, Executive Director of the Museum, wrote:
"Given the red-hot controversy and quagmire of ownership issues regarding antiquities, which have been consistently in the world news, it becomes clear just how indebted we are to the many lenders."
The Guest Curator, Pat Getz-Gentle, is more frank:
"At a time when museums and collectors of antiquities have been castigated in the press, these institutions and individuals have made it possible to enrich the experience of Cycladic art for those already familiar with it and to cultivate a new interest among those who come to the exhibition with little more than fresh eyes and an open mind."
So one would think that the museum would try to avoid being controversial.

Yet some thirteen marble figures in the exhibition are linked (some, to be fair, are given a "?" designation) to the notorious "Keros haul" - sometimes misleadingly called a "hoard" - that was removed from Greece.

The Katonah / Keros haul material consists of:
a. Tampa Museum of Art 2005.010. Gift of the Sahlman family. Formerly in the Mr & Mrs C.W. Sahlman collection and on loan to the Tampa Museum (in 1987); exhibited at the Safani Gallery, New York (in 1983). (Cat. no. 12 = NAC no. 88)

b. Private collection. "Ex French private collection (acquired early 1960s or before)". (Cat. no. 20)

c. The Art Institute of Chicago, Katherine K. Adler Endowment, 1978.115. (Cat. no. 21 = NAC no. 38)

d. Private collection "(acquired 1968)". Formerly in "Switzerland, Private Collection I" [in 1977]. (Cat. no. 22 = ACC no. 211 = Sotirakopolou no. 182)

e. Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, 2003.11.2. Formerly in the Mathias Komor collection, New York; Mathilda Goldman collection; sold at Sotheby's New York, December 11, 2002, lot 10. (Cat. no. 29)

f. Indiana University Art Museum, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.234. Acquired by Thimme in the 1970s. (Cat. no. 31)

g. Private collection. Formerly in "Switzerland, Private Collection I" [in 1977]; "Acquired in 1977". (Cat. no. 32 = ACC no. 201)

h. Indiana University Art Museum, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.226. (Cat. no. 33)

i. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, Friends of Art Fund, 1971, 71.30. (Cat. no. 34)

j. Private collection. (Cat. no. 35)

k. Lewis Dubroff collection. Formerly in the Norman Colville collection ("acquired 1961"). (Cat. no. 36)

l. Tampa Museum of Art 2005.010. Gift of the Sahlman family. (Cat. no. 38 = Sotirakopolou no. 249)

m. Indiana University Art Museum, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.338. (Cat. no. 41)
Ancient Art of the Cyclades has achieved one thing: to demonstrate that the issue of looting and the Cyclades is very much a "red-hot" issue. We must thank Neil Watson and his team for reminding us.

Getz-Gentle, P. 2006. Ancient Art of the Cyclades. New York: Katonah Museum of Art.
Getz-Preziosi, P. 1987. Early Cycladic Art in North American Collections. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. (Cited as NAC)
Sotirakopoulou, P. 2005. The "Keros Hoard": Myth or Reality? Searching for the Lost Pieces of a Puzzle. Athens: N.P. Goulandris Foundation - Museum of Cycladic Art. [Museum bookshop]
Thimme, J. Editor. 1977. Art and Culture of the Cyclades: Handbook of an Ancient Civilisation. Karlsruhe: C.F. Müller. (Cited as ACC)

See also Gill and Chippindale on the material and intellectual consequences of collecting Cycladic figures (including a review of Sotirakopoulou).

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