Blink is not just a celebration of the power of the glance, however. I’m also interested in those moments when our instincts betray us. Why, for instance, if the Getty’s kouros was so obviously fake-or, at least, problematic-did the museum buy it in the first place? Why didn’t the experts at the Getty also have a feeling of intuitive repulsion during the fourteen months they were studying the piece? That’s the great puzzle of what happened at the Getty, and the answer is that those feelings, for one reason or another, were thwarted. That is partly because the scientific data seemed so compelling. (The geologist Stanley Margolis was so convinced by his own analysis that he published a long account of his method in Scientific American.) But mostly it’s because the Getty desperately wanted the statue to be real. It was a young museum, eager to build a world-class collection, and the kouros was such an extraordinary find that its experts were blinded to their instincts. The art historian George Ortiz was once asked by Ernst Langlotz, one of the world’s foremost experts on archaic sculpture, whether he wanted to purchase a bronze statuette. Ortiz went to see the piece and was taken aback; it was, to his mind, clearly a fake, full of contradictory and slipshod elements.
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