The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
By: Robert M. Edsel & Bret Witter
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
At the same time Adolf Hitler was attempting to take over the western world, his armies were methodically seeking and hoarding the finest art treasures in Europe. The Fuehrer had begun cataloguing the art he planned to collect as well as the art he would destroy: “degenerate” works he despised.
In a race against time, behind enemy lines, often unarmed, a special force of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others, called the Monuments Men, risked their lives scouring Europe to prevent the destruction of thousands of years of culture.
Focusing on the eleven-month period between D-Day and V-E Day, this fascinating account follows six Monuments Men and their impossible mission to save the world’s great art from the Nazis.
I had been curious about this book ever since I heard about the movie (starring Matt Damon and George Clooney; no, I haven’t seen the movie yet) and heard that it was based off a non-fiction title. I’ve read accounts from World War Two in the past from the perspective of the soldiers–Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers is another title that comes to mind that I enjoyed–but this one sounded very unique because this group of men (and women) worked to recover and protect artwork and monuments from the destructiveness of the war efforts.
The Catholic Register: Youth Speak News
My latest column for Youth Speak News is available on the website now! Entitled Renaissance Reveals Faith, I wrote about my recent trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario to visit the exhibit Revealing the Early Renaissance: Secrets and Stories in Florentine Art.
I really enjoyed my trip to the AGO for this exhibit, partly because I haven’t been to the art gallery in years, not since before the major renovation that pretty much revamped the entire gallery. The exhibit itself contained a myriad of art pieces, from manuscripts to triptychs (panels such as the photo on the left that were commonly used on altars), from various collections located around the world. Stepping into the exhibit, it was like stepping back to Italy again as a lot of the churches there do feature Renaissance art.
The visit was also quite a learning experience. The historian in me obviously was \o/ looking at the artwork, contemplating on how these pieces were seen by many in the 14th century in churches and chapels, how the copies of Dante’s Inferno were shelved in the family library–I was actually quite amused by those copies, they’re quite readable =) But it’s also interesting because these artists are not as well known as the common names of Michelangelo and da Vinci in the later/high period of the Renaissance. These artists paved the way, so to speak, trying new techniques and bringing art out of the medieval forms and towards the humanistic, Renaissance style. I also learned a lot about what triptychs are, what the Laudario di Sant’Agnese was, what confraternities do and about the art community located just outside of Florence.
All in all, it was a fun excursion to the gallery; I also took the time to check out the European collection, which was lovely. It was quite a dizzying experience in that there’s so much to see and the new layout of the gallery left me sort of trying to navigate my way around. Anyways, let me know what you think of the column (in which I contemplated more about the presence of faith and the communal culture of the Catholic church) and if you’re in town, I’d recommend checking it out at some point *thumbs up*