Fondazione Antonio Ratti

SETH SIEGELAUB COLLECTIONS: acquisition of book bequest and donation of textile collection

8–30 November 2022
FAR - Villa Sucota

Fondazione Antonio Ratti is delighted to announce our acquisition of the book collection of Seth Siegelaub and the generous donation of his collection of textiles to us by his estate.

Independent curator, theoretician, researcher, collector and bibliographer, Seth Siegelaub was and still is a pivotal figure for curators, artists and scholars. His practical and theoretical approach to textile coexists with his political engagement and his commentary on artistic production. He was continually aware of the social aspect of textile.

In 2012, while giving a lecture at the FAR Collecting Textiles symposium, Seth Siegelaub expressed his desire to find a repository for the textile collection and the book archive gathered during more than fifty years of passionate research, within an institution that could take care of his legacy. The archive would also become a physical and digitalized inventory, the continuation of the method of dissemination that he initiated with the Stichting Egress Foundation.

Fondazione Antonio Ratti committed itself to acquiring his collection of more than 9000 volumes and welcomed the generous donation of Sigelaub’s textile collection from Marja Bloem, who inherited it in 2013.

This precious addition to Antonio Ratti‘s estate expanded the library of the Foundation, with the addition of some titles which will lead to the collection being more complete and more accurate. It will also further enhance FAR’s textile collection, creating a dialogue between two collectors who, despite their differences, shared a common cultural vision. The union of the two collections represents a unique bibliographic and textile patrimony, and FAR is committed to protecting and promoting it.

The textile collection and book bequest
Seth Siegelaub’s textile collection includes 723 items: among them, ritual objects, headpieces, costumes, carpets and fabrics from all over the world. All these items were collected with the purpose of investigating the social, political and religious functions in extra- European cultures that textile occupies. A mosaic of Tapa, Suzani, Copt, European velvets and Papuan artifacts which hark back to a large variety of cultural artifacts and links them to their specific contexts of production.

The book bequest is made up of more than 9000 publications: among them books, volumes and pamphlets of a wide range of interest, most of which are dedicated to textiles. The collection is the most complete collection of textile literature in the world, whose detailed study led to the undertaking of the encyclopedic Bibliographica Textilia Historiae, edited by Siegelaub himself. Siegelaub’s purpose was to make textile studies accessible to art and technology specialists and to underline the cultural and anthropological relevance of textile to the so-called “primitive societies”, in the European Middle Ages and Renaissance up to the Industrial Age. He had a special interest in highlighting all the social and economic meanings associated with it. In addition to this collection, the book bequest includes smaller collections of books concerning Marxist political theory, economic and industrial history, quantum physics, anthropology, philosophy, arts and crafts.

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