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Architecture en uniforme

Jean-Louis Cohen

In the field of patrimony, the stories of despoilment by the Nazis during World War II have been largely developed and commented over the last decade. An original book has just come out, renewing the genre. Rather than recalling the atrocities of which his ancestors were the victims, Edmund de Waal, a descendant from major wheat traders - the Ephrussi from Odessa -, who then settled in the main European capitals, chooses to present the subject sideways. He followed the destiny of a small part of the collection, the one of the Japanese netsuke (small sculpted objects in wood or ivory, carried in the belt of the kimono), bought towards 1870 in Paris, miraculously saved from raids at the end of the thirties in Vienna, and of which he is today the last depositary. Through these objects he sheds light on a highly perfected system of dispossession. This well-built investigation is even more touching since it does not play with nostalgia and does not use the usual quantitative criteria on the number of famous works or their value in dollars…

La mémoire retrouvée, l’incroyable destin de la collection Ephrussi by Edmund de Waal, Albin Michel, 2011, 416 p., 23 €

Architecture en uniforme - Jean-Louis Cohen

Review published in the newsletter #224 - from 7 July 2011 to 7 September 2011

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