Cultures of Collecting (Reaktion Books - Critical Views) by John Elsner, Roger Cardinal

By John Elsner, Roger Cardinal

This booklet strains the psychology, historical past and thought of the compulsion to assemble, focusing not only at the normative collections of the Western canon, but in addition on collections that replicate a fascination with the "Other" and the marginal – the ephemeral, unique, or simply undeniable curious.

There are essays at the Neoclassical architect Sir John Soane, Sigmund Freud and Kurt Schwitters, one of many masters of university. Others research imperialist encounters with distant cultures – the conquistadors in the USA within the 16th century, and the British within the Pacific within the eighteenth – and the newer creditors of pop culture, be they of Swatch watches, Elvis Presley memorabilia or of packaging and advertising.

With essays through Jean Baudrillard, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Nicholas Thomas, Mieke Bal, John Forrester, John Windsor, Naomi Schor, Susan Stewart, Anthony Alan Shelton, John Elsner, Roger Cardinal and an interview with Robert Opie.

About the Authors
Roger Cardinal is Professor of Literary and visible stories on the collage of Kent at Canterbury. John Elsner is Lecturer on the Courtauld Institute of Art.

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Extra resources for Cultures of Collecting (Reaktion Books - Critical Views)

Sample text

For example, take this sugar wrapper - once you have ten, how many more do you want? Well, that's an interesting question. I thought they could all go in? Well, they could all go in. ' I'd much rather have a hundred Bovril jars! Variety is what the human mind actually likes, and variety is what one wants to show them. How interesting is something going to be in ten years' time, in fifty years' time, or now? But having said that, you almost have to save everything, because you don't actually know what is going to be interesting in ten years' time, or fifty years' time.

That kind of thing goes back much further - now, chocolate cigarettes, that's probably 190o-ish. All these things go back much further than one thinks. Of course if one doesn't buy them anymore, one thinks they've died out. It's like parents thinking their children no longer play in the playground, with all their naughty ditties and so on, but of course children don't talk to their parents in that kind of language. Parents tend to think it's all disappeared, when it hasn't. People go round an antiques fair looking for one thing and you're looking for another.

During the War this was a bonanza because he had stuff that no-one else had. By the time I found him, he only had two storerooms left, but still there was a lot there. I wasn't at that time saving all this material, I wasn't looking for old packaging. Why it didn't occur to me then to start saving earlier material, I just don't know. I gathered some of it together, and got my brother, who had a car, to come up and take it away. Eventually it got back to London. Were you ever choosing things for aesthetic reasons?

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