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234 × 156 × 28 mm
312 pages
01 Mar 1994
Critical Views
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The Cultures of Collecting Roger Cardinal, John Elsner

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

This book traces the psychology, history and theory of the compulsion to collect, focusing not just on the normative collections of the Western canon, but also on collections that reflect a fascination with the ‘Other’ and the marginal – the ephemeral, exotic, or just plain curious.

There are essays on the Neoclassical architect Sir John Soane, Sigmund Freud and Kurt Schwitters, one of the masters of collage. Others examine imperialist encounters with remote cultures – the conquistadors in America in the sixteenth century, and the British in the Pacific in the eighteenth - and the more recent collectors of popular culture, be they of Swatch watches, Elvis Presley memorabilia or of packaging and advertising.

‘[a] brilliant book . . . a good read. Analysis of the relationship of collecting to identity, memory, and psychosexual development raises fascinating questions.’ — The Modern Review

‘It is by challenging and expanding upon previous ideas and histories of collecting that the book offers ways of rethinking not only the nature of collecting but also the nature of museum practice.’ — Art History

‘Informative and thought-provoking stuff.’ — The Independent

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Roger Cardinal is Emeritus Professor of Literary and Visual Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury. The author of many books and articles, he has written extensively on Surrealism and is an international authority on Art Brut.

John Elsner is Humfrey Payne Senior Research Fellow in Classical Archaeology and Art at Corpus Christi College Oxford.