Point of No Return

January/February 2021

“WHEN DISCONTENT WITH MUSEUMS is strong enough to provoke the attempt to exhibit paintings in their original surroundings or in ones similar, in baroque or rococo castles, for instance, the result is even more distressing than when the works are wrenched from their original surroundings and then brought together.” This is Theodor Adorno in his great essay “Valéry Proust Museum,” first published in German in 1955, a moment of reckoning and reconstruction. Though Adorno doesn’t specify why the attempt to return and repatriate is more upsetting than the original rift and reassembling of modernity, it is clear that we are in a similar moment of discontent again today—and that we, too, must consider our desires and the effects they might produce.

In May this past year, the director of Florence’s Uffizi, Eike Schmidt, announced a proposal to return a number of the museum’s religious

— Alex Kitnick

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