Thursday, January 14, 2010

Okay. This one has been making me crazy all day, and I'm now at the point where I can't possibly keep quiet about it - so here we go.

  Over a month ago, when I was writing an article on Iranian photography,  I requested a catalogue from Bonham's auction house for their most recent sale of Middle Eastern contemporary art.  They sent me 20, yes, 20 catalogues, all for other sales, but not the one I requested, despite several repeat requests.  Only yesterday, after twice informing them that I did not want their other catalogues and that it was too late to send me the one I'd asked for in the first place, did the Middle Eastern art catalogue arrive.

So, you know, I looked it over.

And to my astonishment, I found, among its pages, a lot for a sculpture by Arman.

Now, that might have made sense if Arman were from the Middle East, or worked in the Middle East, or had been Islamic.  But Arman was born in France. In the 1970s, he became an American citizen.   He lived in New York, Paris, and Vence.  And he was Jewish.  So why, I asked Bonham's, did they include one of his works in a sale of Middle Eastern art -- and not only that, but one that their staff specifically referred to (despite its actual title) as a sale of "contemporary Islamic art"?

I've just received word back. The answer: because its a sculpture made from  a lute, which is a Middle Eastern instrument, and therefore the expert in charge of the sale thought that it might be interesting to Middle Eastern buyers.

To which I can only say: "oh." 

(Actually, I could say a lot more, but I think it pretty much all speaks for itself.)

The good part is: it got me back to blogging.

Happy new year.