videos + essays

Submerged, burned, and scattered: celebrating the destruction of objects in South Asia
Submerged, burned, and scattered: celebrating the destruction of objects in South Asia

Not all tangible cultural heritage is in need of preservation, and sometimes a community requires, even celebrates, the destruction of cultural objects.

Making and Mutilating Manuscripts of the <em>Shahnama</em>
Making and Mutilating Manuscripts of the Shahnama

Manuscripts have complex lives—learn about the mutilation, dispersal, and framing, of two important Iranian manuscripts

Folio from a <em>Shahnama</em>, The Bier of Iskandar (Alexander the Great)
Folio from a Shahnama, The Bier of Iskandar (Alexander the Great)

Alexander, the Mongols, and the great epic of Iran.

<em>The Court of Gayumars</em>
The Court of Gayumars

Producing this lush miniature involved many Persian artists—and likely some familiarity with Chinese sources.

Destruction as Preservation: Ai Weiwei’s <em>Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn</em>
Destruction as Preservation: Ai Weiwei’s Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn

How can the destruction of an artifact also be an act of preservation?

Erased from memory: the Severan Tondo
Erased from memory: the Severan Tondo

Rewriting history in ancient Rome.

Rewriting history: <em>damnatio memoriae</em> in ancient Rome
Rewriting history: damnatio memoriae in ancient Rome

If the Roman government condemned a ruler, his portraits often died with him.   We know that Roman emperors were often raised to the status of gods after their deaths. However, just as many were given the opposite treatment—officially erased from memory. Condemning memory is a term we use to describe a Roman phenomenon in […]

Erasing Art: Rauschenberg’s <em>Erased de Kooning drawing</em>
Erasing Art: Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning drawing

That’s right, the Erased de Kooning Drawing is… an erased drawing by Willem de Kooning. It is also a statement that the “erasing” artist, Robert Rauschenberg, made about the artistic culture of his time and about his own artistic practice. How It Happened In the Fall of 1952, the young artist Robert Rauschenberg visited the […]

Iconoclasm in the Netherlands in the Sixteenth Century
Iconoclasm in the Netherlands in the Sixteenth Century

Different church interiors — Calvinist (Protestant) and Catholic In paintings by seventeenth-century Dutch artist Pieter Saenredam, the interiors of churches often appear as blank, sterile spaces with white walls, clear glass windows, and a notable lack of decoration. We know from his meticulous preparatory drawings that Saenredam was a precise artist, and although he sometimes […]

“Creative iconoclasm”: a tale of two monasteries
“Creative iconoclasm”: a tale of two monasteries

Two medieval Spanish monasteries make their way to the United States, and survive to be reconstructed — barely.