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THE QUOTABLE EGYPTIAN REVIVAL
 
The appeal of ancient Egypt [in the early 19th century] was more than just exoticism. It had to do with the mystery of hieroglyphs, the spookiness of tomb culture, the precious materials and impressive buildings. Nothing on the scale of ancient Egyptian pyramids was then known; they were like something from outer space.
--Philip Hewat-Jaboor,
quoted by Wendy Moonan,
"When London and Paris Looked to the Nile
for Inspiration." New York Times, 11 July 2008
In 1989, when I.M. Pei’s Glass Pyramid was installed in the courtyard of the Louvre Palace in Paris, [2.2] 200 years after that building was transformed into one of the great art museums of the world by the revolutionaries of 1789, it was not without its critics. They focused on the dissonance between the original ornate building from the period of high feudalism of France and the glass pyramid somewhere between New Age and Pharaonic Egypt. But to my mind, both buildings sit well together, the original palace as one of the Ancien Regime’s most outrageous (which rage came out in 1789) creations, and the pyramid as a summary comment on the structure of the regime itself.
Ian MacDougall, "The Fourth Transition."
<<http://webdiary.com.au/cms/?q=node/2345>>, 26 April 2008
    Thus did kitsch pictures such as "The Procession of Cleopatra," by the 19th-century Orientalist painter Ernst-Ferdinand Eichler, come to be offered in the same sale as Abstract compositions by Miró and Cubist works by Juan Gris and Henri Laurens.
Souren Melikian, "Drouot raises
Paris's profile in the auction world."
International Herald Tribune, 4 January 2008
    For this doctor, plastic surgery is "a way of promoting happiness and healthy function, not self-indulgent vanity." He does not promote plastic surgery in a "carnal, worldly way, no Egyptian goddesses or unattainable supermodel images here."
--Gregg L. Parker, "Plastic Surgeon Tries to
Keep his Practice Personal,"
The Huntsville Times, 10 October 2007,
quoting Dr. Patrick Lappert
"'Why do they come 'ere, what for? Look at it, there's nothing here, the place is a dump. Why would you bother? I mean, Houses of Parliament? Big Ben? Just a building. If you were gonna go somewhere you'd go to Egypt wouldn't yer? See them things, what they called?' He made angry triangular shapes in the air with his hands before finding the word he was after.
    "'Pyramids! What are they for, bruv? What are they about?'
    "'Tombs, innit?' said his mate, but the man was undeterred.
    "'Big Ben!' he shouted. 'What is it? It's just a clock on a stick, innit? A bleedin' tower!'"
--Michael Holden, "Some of My Best Quotes
Come from Builders," The Telegraph (London)
Telegraph.co.uk, 7 October 2007,
observing two construction workers in London
remarking on passing German tourists
"Karaoke Room" is a neatly equipped domestic shrine to unrecognizable talent. The room bears trompe l'oeil murals of ancient Egyptian temples and pyramids. Delusions of grandeur, anyone?
--Lea Ollman, "Brian Mains at Hunsaker/Schlesinger
(Also reviewed: Exhibitions by Charlene Liu,
Koo Sung Soo and Pipo Nguyen-duy),"
Los Angeles Times, 21 September 2007,
regarding the exhibit of Sung Soo's
large-scale photographs
"I had waited so long to see such decadence and was stunned," she told us. "I loved his youthful wild indulgence and although the young king died young he burnt brightly. The collection is not Egyptian-inspired, it is a homage to immoderation and luxury." 
--Dolly Jones, "Packham's New Woman,"
Vogue.com, 7 September 2007,
quoting fashion designer Jenny Packham,
who spoke of the Tutankhamen exhibit
Darren Dahl, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia, doesn't see any harm in appropriating references from other cultures or historical periods for the names and designs of condo developments.
    But if it's done tactlessly, he says, it could take on the irrelevant ersatz of the Las Vegas strip, with its fake Eiffel Tower and Egyptian pyramid.
--Kerry Gold, "The Name Game,"
The Globe and Mail (Canada), 31 August 2007
How does the Discovery Channel gauge what is good enough to film? Aside from lions, sharks and Egyptian tombs, which have gained “cool status” through years of commercial worship, how does the famed documentary TV channel rule on content?
--NÁ, "WWID- What would Indiana do?"
Iceland Review_Online, 25 August 2007
Every year there are new names for this heavy-lipped, heavy-lidded look. [...]
    The question is whether a retro look befitting Norma Desmond or an Egyptian mummy could work on a contemporary woman who spends her working day not in a West Hollywood swimming pool or on a Nile barge but in a Midtown office.
--Natasha Singer,
"No, I haven't been Mugged. Why Do you Ask?"
New York Times, August 23, 2007
By stripping the pyramid of its kitschy icons and replacing loudly themed restaurants and stores with those bearing stylish, hushed ambience, the pyramid "isn't a symbol of Egypt but a symbol of "sexiness, of nightlife," Schadler said.
 --Liz Benston, "Luxor to Shed its Egyptian Image."
The Mercury News.com
, July 29, 2007

(quoting John Schadler of the marketing firm 
hired to "transform" the Luxor hotel and casino in Las Vegas)
Art furniture leapt whole from the head of maestro Ettore Sottsass, a Milanese architect who, with his merry band, launched Memphis (a riff on both Elvis's hometown and ancient Egypt), a collection of pieces hardly anyone could afford or even get their hands on. Memphis was so fanciful  and so arch, people are still arguing about it.
--Dorothy Kalins "Design of the Time."
Newsweek 147.12, March 20, 2006, p. 58
"... Our biggest act this summer died 3,000 years ago." AEG's big show? King Tut, which has sold 1.2 million tickets in Los Angeles alone. No pyrotechnic midgets, no strippers.
--Jennifer Ordoñez, "The New School of Rock: promoters cut prices 
and add perks." Newsweek 146.6, August 8, 2005, p. 38
(quoting Randy Phillips, chief executive 
officer of show promoter firm AEG Live)
The couple exchanged vows on Sept. 21 at the Old Whaler's Church in Sag Harbor, N.Y., an Egyptian Revival structure that resembles a big, square wedding cake.
--Jennifer Tung, "Weddings/Celebrations: Vows;
Cynthia De Vivo and Seth Berkley."

The New York Times, September 29, 2002
Much has clouded our view of this once mighty civilization. "Egyptomania," or the craze for things Egyptian, did not help further understanding of  the genius of the art.
--Joanna Shaw-Eagle, "Everlasting Beauty of Egyptian Creation."
The Washington Times, October 30, 1999
Obelisks, pyramids and all the other Egyptian-derived forms, which for centuries, even before the great excavations of the 19th century, permeated Western art and architecture (the Egyptian Hall in London, the original Tombs in lower Manhattan, the old suspension bridge over the Neva in St. Petersburg, the Pyramid at the Louvre in Paris and on and on) proved that the Egyptians succeeded, to a degree probably even they didn't anticipate, in leaving a legacy to outlast themselves.
--Michael Kimmelman, "Old Friend, Forever Mysterious."
The New York Times, September 17, 1998
Egyptomania rules.
--Wendy Moonan, "The Enduring Attraction of Egypt."
The New York Times, September 4, 1998
"One of the reasons I got involved with Egyptomania as a collector was as an attempt to understand some of the strange things the public asks me in relation to my serious work,'' says Richard Fazzini, chairman of the Egyptian, classical and ancient Middle Eastern art department at the Brooklyn Museum, which houses one of the finest Egyptian collections in the country. ''Questions kept popping up, like 'Did ancient Egyptians have really long fangs?' When you are curating a show or writing a text, you have to deal with certain misconceptions.''
--Marina Isola, "Curators, Too, Can Be Collectors, Within Limits."
The New York Times, September 1, 1996
Where you find contemporary artists seriously engaged with Egyptian art, you sense the private struggles for meaning and the degree of artistic resistance to the noise and commerce of the art world. You sense the kind of silent currents that are always flowing through the art world away from the mainstream. And you encounter some of the personal responses to a moment in which the meaning of art seems severely tested by mortality and money.
"Egyptian Art is Alive and Well in the West."
The New York Times, December 31, 1989
In November of 1908, Picasso and his mistress, Fernande Olivier,  organized a banquet in honor of Le Douanier Rousseau, at which the guest  of honor is said to have told Picasso: "We are the two greatest painters  of our epoch, you in the Egyptian style, I in the modern." As the banquet took place in Picasso's studio, where as far as I know Les Demoiselles d'Avignon was still on view to Picasso's pals, there is a certain crackpot  acuity tantamount to wit in Rousseau's seeing Picasso as part of an Egyptian  revival.
Arthur C. Danto, "Georges Braque."
The Nation, August, 1988
Looking back upon the nineteenth-century stylistic revivals from  our vantage point of a hundred years and more, we may be inclined to think  them pedantic or puerile, uninspired or lacking in creative genius...
     This was true of the Egyptian revival...
--Alice Winchester, editor, Antiques 90.4, October, 1966, p. 481
(in an introduction to the Antiques section, which in this issue
featured three major article on Egyptian Revival topics)
Elvis wore what appeared to be a heavy, expensive ankh on a chain around his neck. An ankh is a cross with a loop at the top; it is worn as an Egyptian symbol of enduring life.
    [...]
     At 10:30, Elvis, his cape outstretched with his arms, bowed and left.
     The man in the serge suit announced:
     "Elvis has left the building."
Gene Miller, "Screams, Squirms and Song:
Elvis Aron Presley, 21, Offstage is Quiet, Likable."
The Richmond News Leader, July 2, 1956  
Modern interpretations of Egyptian costume have an air that is dashing  and bizarre; in reality the Egyptians were conservative in costume as in all else. 
-- Mary McAlister, "Ancient Costume and Modern Fashion,"
Art and Archaeology 15, April 1923
Her viewpoint was that of the average person, and the average person cannot see the importance of the scarab in the scheme of things. The opinion she formed of Mr. Peters was of his being an eccentric old gentleman, making a great to-do about nothing at all. Losses had to have a concrete value before they could impress Joan. It was beyond her to grasp that Mr. Peters would sooner have lost a diamond necklace, if he had happened to possess one, than his Cheops of the Fourth Dynasty.
--P.G. Wodehouse, Something New, 1915
Egyptian architecture will do nowhere but in Egypt. There, its cold and gloomy ponderosity ("weight" is too petty a word!) befits the hot, burning atmosphere and shifting sands. But in such a climate as this [in England], it is nothing but an uncouth anomaly. The absurdity, however, renders it a good advertisement. 
--Leigh Hunt, "A Saunter through the West End,"
The Atlas, 1847, p. 43
'Then, for the little room, I recommend turning it temporarily into a Chinese pagoda, with this Chinese pagoda paper, with the porcelain border, and josses, and jars, and beakers to match; and I can venture to promise one vase of pre-eminent size and beauty. Oh, indubitably! if your la'ship prefers it, you can have the Egyptian hieroglyphic paper, with the ibis border to match! The only objection is, one sees it everywhere--quite antediluvian --gone to the hotels even....'
--Mary Edgeworth, The Absentee, 1812
It cannot but be highly gratifying to every person of genuine taste, to observe the revolution which has, within these few years, taken place in the furniture and decorations of the apartments of people of fashion. In consequence of this revolution, effected principally by the study of the antique, and the refined notions of beauty derived from that source, the barbarous Egyptian style, which a few years since prevailed, is succeeded by the classical elegance which has characterized the most polished ages of Greece and Rome.
--The Repository of the Arts 2, 1809 (August), p. 132
Everything now must be Egyptian: the ladies wear crocodile ornaments, and you sit upon a sphinx in a room hung round with mummies, and with long black lean-armed long-nosed hieroglyphical men, who are enough to make the children afraid to go to bed. The very shopboards must be metamorphosed into the mode, and painted in Egyptian letters, which, as the Egyptians had no letters, you will doubtless conceive must be curious. They are simply the common characters, deprived of all beauty and all proportion by having all the strokes of equal thickness, so that those which should be thin look as if they had the elephantiasis.
--Robert Southey, Letters from England, 1807, p. 449
Let me however avail myself of the description of this room, to urge young artists never to adopt, except from motives more weighty than mere aim of novelty, the Egyptian style of ornament. The hieroglyphic figures, so universally employed by the Egyptians, can afford us little pleasure on account of their meaning, since this is seldom intelligible; they can afford us still less gratification on account of their outline, since this is never agreeable; at least in as far as regards those smaller details, which alone are susceptible of being introduced in our confined spaces. Real Egyptian monuments, built of the hardest materials, cut out of the most prodigious blocks, even where they please not the eye, through the elegance of their shapes, still amaze the intellect, through the immensity of their size, and the indestructibility of their nature. Modern imitations of those wonders of antiquity, composed of lath and of plaster, of callico and of paper, offer no one atttribute of solidity or grandeur to compensate for their want of elegance and grace, and can only excite ridicule and contempt.
--Thomas Hope, Household Furniture
and Interior Decoration, 1807, p. 36
While the nation was in this distracted situation, there arrived the prince of Quifferiquimini, who would have been the most accomplished hero of his age, if he had not been dead, and had spoken any language but the Egyptian, and had not had three legs. Notwithstanding these blemishes, the eyes of the whole nation were immediately turned upon him, and each party wished to see him married to the princess whose cause they espoused.
     The old king received him with the most distinguished honours; the senate made the most fulsome addresses to him; the princesses were so taken with him, that they grew more bitter enemies than ever; and the court ladies and petit-maitres invented a thousand new fashions upon his account -- every thing was to be á la Quifferiquimini. Both men and women of fashion left off rouge to look the more cadaverous; their cloathes were embroidered with hieroglyphics, and all the ugly characters they could gather from Egyptian antiquities, with which they were forced to be contented, it being impossible to learn a language that is lost; and all tables, chairs, stools, cabinets and couches, were made with only three legs; the last, however, soon went out of fashion, as being very inconvenient.
--Horace Walpole, "The King and His Three Daughters,"
Hieroglyphic Tales, 1785