Items from the collection of Norbert Elias (1897-1990)The masks and figurines shown were in the early 1980s part of the personal collection of sociologist Norbert Elias. Many of these statues were part of an exhibit at the Leicester Museum and Art Galery in England, from April 24 - June 14 1970. Only four of the items shown here also appeared (mostly in black and white) in the catalogue to that exhibit.
Prof. Elias was interested in having more of his collection documented, with the ultimate aim of one day collecting these images, with an explanatory essay, in a small book. I was living in Amsterdam at the time, and being interested in photography, I offered to help, and started photographing parts of the collection starting in 1983, continuing at intervals until 1987.
Norbert Elias died August 1, 1990, and the book was not completed. I recently came across the binders with the many hundreds of photographs I took of Elias' collection, and decided to scan in some of the better images and at least make them available on the web. Many of the images are hauntingly beautiful, and no doubt all have a story attached to them that alas can no longer be told. A few comments on four of the figurines were found in the catalogue from the Leicester exhibit. (The photos shown here are of course not from that catalogue.)
All photographs below are © 1983-1987 Gerard J. Holzmann.
Gerard J. Holzmann, Arcadia 2003.