Something to look at

David Sylvester

Great art collections formed by individuals are generally highly specialised – French Impressionist paintings, English sporting pictures, early Chinese bronzes – or somewhat specialised – Classical antiquities, Old Master drawings, Islamic art. What is special about George Ortiz’s collection of antiquities and ethnographic art, part of which is currently on show at the Royal Academy, is its combination of quality and breadth.[*] Ortiz is not only like a decathlon winner; he is like an unheard-of phenomenon, a decathlon winner some of whose results are better than those of the winners of separate events.

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[*] The exhibition can be seen at the Royal Academy until 6 April. In Pursuit of the Absolute: Art of the Ancient World from the George Ortiz Collection, the catalogue of the exhibition, is published by Benteli-Werd.