Henri's berichten over zijn recente activiteiten

Henri's reports on his recent activities

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maandag 22 september 2014

Curiosity II

Possibly there is a collector in everyone, and is collecting as essential to the human spirit as is breathing for the body. in mid-sixteenth-century Europe precious collections  arose , assembles in Wunderkammern or cabinets of curiosities. My previous entry contemplated on the exhibition “Curiosity”  in “De Appel”, Amsterdam.  That show was inspired by the concept of the Wunderkammer and it seems that this is no incident. Following up on my blog, the Dutch daily newspaper “De Volkskrant” of September 2, p. V4, dedicated a page on this same show, and we share at least one conclusion. Where I wrote: Here, in "De Appel", we learn about the personal sensibilities of the curator. There are no whys attached, his choices simply seem to be his favorites, whilst the newspaper reads: … wat de onderlinge relatie is, blijft onduidelijk ( … what might constitute the mutual relation, remains uncovered).  "De Volkskrant" also points out that at present, a focus on the idea of a cabinet of curiosity can be traced in recent events. Remember the Venice Biennale  2013, as well as Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s contribution to  Documenta 13, 2012. 
 But there is more to this. “The return of the cabinets of curiosity" is the name of a bundle of essays: Henning Ritter / Die Wiederkehr der Wunderkammer : Über Kunst und Künstler. Hanser: Berlin, 2014 [ISBN 9783446240346]. If there was ever a good reason to practice reading abilities of the German language, it is this book.

Chris lifts carefully the model of Actinophrys sol
The Curiosity exhibition  expired on September 14, 2014 and Chris Meechan from Cardiff came over to pack the Blaschka glass for transport. With him I co-authored  "Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka and natural history in the nineteenth century", in:  Peto and Hudson (eds) /Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. London: Design Museum, 2002 [ISBN 1872005454].  De had a serious discussion how to expand this nice essay to  book on the Blaschkas, that would cover a wider range of interesting topics.

In front of the natural history shop of Deyrolle, August 1992
If the focus of a cabinet of curiosity is on arts and crafts,  the focus of its counterpart, the Naturalienkabinett (Natural History Cabinet) is on the wonderful and or instructive phenomena of the natural world. In due time Wunderkammer and Naturalienkabinett evolved into the art museums and the natural history museums. But we should also realize that the boundaries between these cabinets and their fields of collecting were hazy.

Inside the shop of Deyrolle, August 1992
In august 1992, I visited Maison Deyrolle , Rue du Bac in Paris. This shop is well known as a supplier of teaching aids, natural history exhibits and utensils for collectors. With its abundant and diverse merchandise it still evokes the look and feel of an ancient natural history cabinet. The shop was hit by a fire in 2009, many of the collections were lost, but the house rose up out of the ashes. 

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