Saturday, August 4, 2012

Restitution des Oeuvres d'Art, Solutions et Impasses

On MSN is a short review posted by Jos van Beurden of a work on the issue of repatriation: La Restitution des Oeuvres d'Art, Solutions et Impasses (Corinne Herskovitch & Didier Rykner, Hazan, Paris, 2011).
Herskovitch and Rykner discuss quite a number French examples of successful and failed returns, among them three examples of Nigerian Nok statues with three different outcomes, Nazi spoliated art including the role of the Vichy government, and Korean manuscripts that were returned recently. They make it clear that even if the legal path is being used, still political arguments can be decisive. They clearly describe how France and other colonial powers contributed to the museum-infrastructure in their colonies and at the same time amassed, during wars, punitive expeditions, collecting for scientific purposes and collecting by private people, huge quantities of art and antiques from these countries. They also depict the stalemate between the former colonial powers and the source countries, but do not come to a conclusions as how to go on with this.
In the review, the comment is made that the authors of this book "do not understand why source countries, gathered in Egypt in 2010, so much neglected the non-retroactivity of conventions".

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