"Art isn’t reduced here to a litany of obscene auction prices"

So writes Michael Kimmelman in a piece detailing the destruction resulting from the recent earthquake:

Italy is not like America. Art isn’t reduced here to a litany of obscene auction prices or lamentations over the bursting bubble of shameless excess. It’s a matter of daily life, linking home and history. Italians don’t visit museums much, truth be told, because they already live in them and can’t live without them. The art world might retrieve a useful lesson from the rubble.

Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has been busily soliciting foreign aid for cultural restoration after the quake. More than 11,000 volunteers and rescue workers have rushed to help. Milko Morichetti is one, a 39-year-old art restorer from Mogliano, in the Italian Marches.

“Without the culture that connects us to our territory, we lose our identity,” he said. “There may not be many famous artists or famous monuments here, but before anything, Italians feel proud of the culture that comes from their own towns, their own regions. And when we restore a church or a museum, it gives us hope. This is not just about preserving museum culture. For us, it’s about a return to normalcy.”

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