RSS Twitter iCal - Members: Login or Register Search

June 22, 2006, 7:00 PM

The Sensibility of the Collector

Participants: Charles Randall Dean, Glenn Horowitz, Francis Levy (moderator), Michael Stone-Richards, Peter Subkowski

What motivates the collector? Love of the object, obsessionality? The collecting impulse has classically been identified with the fine arts where individuals like Bernard Berenson created great collections that were works of art in and of themselves. Collectors like Berenson, the Medicis centuries before and, in our time, the Saachi brothers, become arbiters of taste who inadvertently exert an enormous influence on the history of art. But the collecting impulse can also manifest itself outside the concept of the masterpiece in rare books, coins and stamps, rugs and in many more objects like Chinese restaurant menus, crockery, fossils and preserved butterflies. The provenance of works of antiquity is increasingly becoming a testing ground for international law, but the collecting impulse may even predate the notion of art itself. This panel examines the collecting impulse as cultural phenomenon while also exploring its significance as an attribute of imagination.

Bill Brown is Edward Carson Weller Distinguished Service Professor and Chair, Department of English at the University of Chicago. He is Co-editor of Critical Inquiry and author of The Material Unconscious, A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature, and a volume of essays entitled Things.

Charles Randall Dean has been collecting American abstract prints from the mid-twentieth century for almost twenty years. A selection of prints from his collection is currently on exhibit at the Pollock-Krasner House in the Springs near East Hampton.

Glenn Horowitz is a self-styled "bibliophilic diplomat," negotiating among literary heirs and estates for archival collections. He helps individuals build collections that reflect their own very particular interests.

Francis Levy (moderator) is Co-Director of the Philoctetes Center. He is a short story writer, critic, humorist, poet, and novelist.

Michael Stone-Richards is Associate Professor in Comparative Literature and Critical Theory at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. He has taught seminars in Freud and Andre Breton at Northwestern University and published widely in English and French on avant-garde art and poetry.

Peter Subkowski is a German psychoanalyst who has written on the psychodynamics of collecting.


Discussion Board

This forum allows for an ongoing discussion of the above Philoctetes event. You may use this space to share your thoughts or to pose questions for panelists. An attempt will be made to address questions during the live event or as part of a continued online dialogue.

Post a Comment

(URLs will display as links.)
If you are a Philoctetes subscriber, please log in below to post to our event discussions. Or sign up now for a free subscription so you can post to our discussions and optionally receive our email announcements and our bi-monthly newsletter.
E-mail Address:
Password: (Forgot your password?)