Introduction

Made in Europe
Research on European heritage of arts, sciences and sports

‘When I think of Europe, I think of Chartres Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel. I think of Shakespeare’s plays and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. I hear the final chorus from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’ by the Beatles. I see Fellini’s Satyricon and the Tintin album King Ottokar’s Scepter. I think of French cuisine, Greek tragedy, German Romanticism, the Dutch Masters, Scandinavian design, the Russian novel.

When I think of Europe, I think of shared culture, from Dublin to Lesbos and St. Petersburg to Lisbon: literature and art which transcend borders. Call me a romantic. Even though I’m not the only one, most people think of other things, when they think of Europe: problems with the Euro, for example; bureaucracy in Brussels and unnecessary trips to Strasbourg; overregulation and political impotence; open borders and “non – integrable” immigrants; ideological differences between East and West, economic differences between North and South. In short: seemingly unbridgeable.

The disunity of Europe cannot be denied. Yet the same holds true for the cultural icons that unite her. In the art museums of St. Petersburg and Bucharest are paintings by artists whose works can also be found in the museums of London and Madrid. Beethoven and Wagner are as popular in the Baltics as they are in the Mediterranean. Dance parties in every European city unite young people of every nationality. IKEA furniture stands solidly and stolidly in the homes of Poles and Italians, Portuguese and Irish. Baroque architecture graces the cities of Slovenia and Luxemburg, Netherlands and Finland; and although it may has been called something different in every language, Art Nouveau took all of Europe by storm.

If we are to believe the Euro sceptics, nothing good ever comes from Europe; we must draw faith, hope, and shining examples from our national culture and tradition. But there is enough Pan-European cultural heritage for all Europeans to be proud of. Europe’s shared culture is far broader, her origins more varied, than poetry and prose. There are painting, sculpture, film, music, dance, fashion, design.’

From a translation by Stacey Knecht of the introduction to Made in Europe
– De kunst die ons continent bindt (The art that binds our continent), by Pieter Steinz on the cultural heritage of Europe.