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jerryking : antiquities   9

Private Libraries That Inspire
April 25, 2019 | WSJ | By Katy McLaughlin.

Difficult to build and maintain, these elaborate spaces contain the passions and obsessions of their owners. Libraries That Inspire -- These spectacular rooms house the owners’ collections of books, antiques, art and ephemera representing their unique, life-long passions and interests.

Forget the Dewey Decimal System: Entrepreneur and inventor Jay Walker’s 25,000 books, manuscripts, artifacts and objects are organized in his personal 3,600-square-foot library “randomly, by color and height,” he said. When he walks into his library, part of his Ridgefield, Conn., home, the room automatically “wakes up,” glowing with theatrical lighting, music and LED-lit glass panels lining various walkways. He finds items to peruse by a system of memory, chance, and inspiration, he said.

The Walker Library of the History of the Human Imagination is a dramatic example of the rarest of residential amenities: A vast, personal, custom-built repository of intellectual stimuli. In the age of the e-reader, it is a status symbol on par with wearing a Patek Philippe watch when the cellphone already tells the time. For wealthy homeowners, personal libraries provide both a quiet refuge from the world and a playground for their minds—as well as a solution to the challenge of warehousing books from which they cannot bear to part......To create enough shelf space and to counteract the visual heaviness of walls lined with books, private libraries may aim for two or more open stories......The private library is a classic example of a highly personal amenity that is expensive for the builder of a dream home to create and hard to recoup upon resale. .......the library has stimulated new ideas that have translated into an array of inventions and helped him make many new friends.

For some private library owners, especially those who aspire to world-class book collections, the serious expenditure isn’t in the physical structure, but in the contents. “It is not uncommon for collectors at this level to be spending in excess of $1 million a year” on books ......
antiques  antiquities  art  bespoke  books  collectibles  collectors  curation  design  high_net_worth  ideas  inspiration  insurance  Katy_McLaughlin  life_long_learning  personal_libraries  physical_place  owners  passions  shelf_space  status_symbols  uniqueness 
april 2019 by jerryking
France urged to return museum artefacts to Africa
November 23, 2018 | Financial Times David Pilling, Africa Editor.

France should permanently return tens of thousands of cultural artefacts plundered from Africa during colonialism, according to a report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron that could send tremors around the museums of Europe.

In the report, submitted to the French leader on Friday, the authors accused museums with large African collections — much of which was ransacked or purchased under duress — of being part of “a system of appropriation and alienation” that deprived Africans of the “spiritual nourishment that is the foundation of their humanity”.

....more than 90 per cent of the “material cultural legacy” of sub-Saharan Africa — including palace doors, thrones, carved heads and bronzes — was outside the continent. Europeans, it said, were straining to justify their continued possession of such treasure, while “Africans find themselves struggling to recover the thread of an interrupted memory”.

France alone, the report said, had at least 90,000 African objects, including from modern-day Chad, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin, Republic of Congo, Senegal and Guinea. French collections also had artefacts from Ethiopia and the former British colonies of Ghana and Nigeria. Many items labelled as “gifts” were the spoils of war, it said.
colonialism  France  restitution  museums  Africa  sub-Saharan_Africa  Emmanuel_Macron  artifacts  repatriation  heritage  antiquities  art  art_history  collectibles  cultural_institutions 
november 2018 by jerryking
When terrorists destroy books - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Dec. 30 2012

The threat from Islamic extremists to the irreplaceable manuscripts and monuments of Timbuktu is one of several reasons why it is unfortunate that a military force authorized by the United Nations Security Council to recover northern Mali for the government of that country, based in Bamako, will not be ready until September, 2013.

Members of a group calling itself Ansar al-Din, allied to even worse factions such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, have already destroyed numerous monuments to Muslim holy men. The door of one 15th-century mosque has been deliberately wrecked. The extremists are Wahhabis, followers of an 18th-century movement, who believe that Sufism, a form of Islam with mystical elements, is a grave heresy and that the veneration of saints is polytheistic and idolatrous. Just such a destruction of shrines took place in the 20th century when the Saudi family conquered most of the Arabian peninsula....The UN World Heritage Committee has passed a resolution to set up an emergency fund to safeguard Mali’s cultural heritage. It would be fanciful to suggest that the responsibility-to-protect doctrine could be extended to old books. This legacy will survive only if the international community recognizes its strategic interest in restoring the Malian government’s power in the north.
extremism  Wahhabism  Timbuktu  Mali  editorials  antiquities  heritage  heresies 
january 2013 by jerryking
The secret race to save Timbuktu’s manuscripts - The Globe and Mail
Dec. 27 2012 | The Globe and Mail | GEOFFREY YORK.

Timbuktu’s greatest cultural treasure: its ancient scholarly manuscripts, are under threat from Radical Islamist rebels who have repeatedly attacked the fabled city’s heritage, taking pickaxes to the tombs of local saints and smashing down a door in a 15th century mosque and demolishing mausoleums...Timbuktu’s most priceless remaining legacy is its vast libraries of crumbling Arabic and African manuscripts, written in ornate calligraphy over the past eight centuries, proof of a historic African intellectual tradition. Some experts consider them as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls – and an implicit rebuke to the harsh narrow views of the Islamist radicals.

But now the manuscripts, too, could be under threat. And so a covert operation is under way to save them....The manuscripts, dating back to the 13th century, are evidence of ancient African and Islamist written scholarship, contradicting the myth of a purely oral tradition on the continent.

Many of the manuscripts are religious documents, but others are intellectual treatises on medicine, astronomy, literature, mathematics, chemistry, judicial law and philosophy. Many were brought to Timbuktu in camel caravans by scholars from Cairo, Baghdad and Persia who trekked to the city when it was one of the world’s greatest centres of Islamic learning. In the Middle Ages, when Europe was stagnating, the African city had 180 religious schools and a university with 20,000 students.

Timbuktu fell into decline after Moroccan invasions and French colonization, but its ancient gold-lettered manuscripts were preserved by dozens of owners, mostly private citizens, who kept them in wooden trunks or in their own libraries.

Today, under the occupation of the radical jihadists, the manuscripts face a range of threats. Conservation experts have fled the city, so the documents could be damaged by insects, mice, sand, dust or extreme temperatures. Or the Islamist militants could decide to raise money by looting and selling the documents.
Mali  Africa  Timbuktu  Geoffrey_York  cultural_institutions  covert_operations  antiquities  art_history  threats  art  collectors  collectibles  Islamists  sub-Saharan_Africa  digitalization 
december 2012 by jerryking
African Art Is Under Threat in Djenne-Djenno - NYTimes.com
August 2, 2012 | NYT | By HOLLAND COTTER.

Ethical battles surrounding the ownership of, and right to control and dispose of, art from the past rage on in Africa, as in other parts of the world....the wars over art as cultural property take many forms: material, political and ideological. On the surface the dynamics may seem clear cut, the good guys and bad guys easy to identify. In reality the conflicts are multifaceted, questions of innocence and guilt often — though not always — hard to nail down. In many accounts Africa is presented as the acted-upon party to the drama, the loser in the heritage fight, though such is not necessarily the case, and it certainly doesn’t have to be, and won’t be if we acknowledge Africa as the determining voice in every conversation...finding sculptures in situ, in their historical context...unauthorized trade in such art had been illegal since 1970, when Unesco drew up its Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. But the digging went on, and getting art out of the country — through porous borders, with a payment of bribes — was (and still is) easy. ...Certain archaeologists, the McIntoshes among them, were aghast at the ruinous plundering and took action. They were convinced that any Western attention paid to Malian antiquities increased the market value and encouraged looting. With this in mind they proposed an information blackout on any and all “orphaned“ Inland Niger Delta objects, meaning any that had not been scientifically excavated — most of those in circulation... The antiquities wars were not easy on dealers, collectors and museum administrators. Not only were their jobs threatened and acquisitive passions blocked, but they acquired unfortunate reputations. Once esteemed as cultural benefactors, they came to be seen, in some quarters, as hoarders and thieves.

Where does Africa itself stand in all of this? Is it merely the battleground on which science and commerce clash, a passive stretch of turf to be either righteously conserved or carved up and parceled out? Or is it — could it be — an active, gainful partner in cultural exchange?

It could. Art-alert countries like Nigeria and Mali have stockpiles of objects in storage. Selections of them could be leased out to Western institutions, or even swapped for temporary loans of Western art. The idea that Africa would not be receptive to such exchanges is wrong. It has fine museums (in Bamako, in Lagos), impressive private collections (one is documented in Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie’s superb book “Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art“), and at least a few sharp critics (check out Kwame Opoku at modernghana.com).

There’s no reason to think that concepts of art in Africa and the West — I use these generalities for convenience only — have to jibe. But clearly a sense of the complex value of patrimony is strong and can be pushed further. The time is long past due to be compiling comprehensive digital databases not just of art from Africa, but also of art that’s still there. Not only would this be an invaluable, promotional resource for international study, it would also be a lasting record of types of ephemeral art, or of things too fragile to move, or of objects that have, in the event of political instability, a good chance of being lost.
Africa  art  collectors  collectibles  Mali  ethics  museums  books  embargoes  contraband  archeological  dealerships  art_galleries  art_history  Nigeria  threats  Islamists  antiquities  Timbuktu  sub-Saharan_Africa  heritage  history  stockpiles 
august 2012 by jerryking

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