Practical people, on hearing that one’s chosen field is something like art history or anthropology, will often ask (perhaps not unreasonably), “but what can you do with that?”. If an archaeologist or other rare species seems frustrated by the question, it is not for lack of an answer, but rather, because the questioner is missing the point. No one plunges deeply into an abstract academic profession because a magazine article listed it in “Top Ten Careers for Wealth and Prestige”; we do it because we love it. When I was a student, and still now when I work, whenever I get caught up in the effort, or am sick of stumbling on a problem-block, I always come back to the art, and am always cured. An hour in a gallery, or a museum, alone with something a thousand years old, and the wonder, the amazement at humankind and its history remind me why I wanted to do this.
Recently, plugging away at my research (my loyal readers may have noted that I have not posted in a while, so I am glad to be back), I decided I needed to be inspired again. So, down with the data, I decided to start galleries of pieces related to my research, on Pinterest! Pinterest is an amazing site, where people post images, quotes, links, tips anything that inspires or interests them. (Click here to explore its dizzying possibilities). Its positive spirit (on an internet with much that is not positive), gave me the idea to collect images of stolen artworks, to take a moment apart from concern for their survival and the agony of getting them back, and just remember how beautiful many of them are. Perhaps it is sad, knowing so many masterpieces are lost, but the point of these galleries (pin-boards) is to keep their inspiration alive, even if we never see them again.
Gallery of Stolen Art has just launched, with images of the artworks stolen in one of the most famous heists of the twentieth century, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Plans for future boards include galleries of looted antiquities and artefacts, and, more encouragingly, pieces lost and recovered!