Friday, January 04, 2008

The Golden Age of Antiquities

Recently the Met re-imagined its Greek and Roman galleries. I raved about them here and here (sorry the images have vanished). Jerry Saltz hailed their reopening as the best exhibition of 2007 (and simply raves about the Met in general in his latest article...something I felt compelled to do myself a while back). OK, so Jerry's a bigger fan than me...he's even highlighted the G&R Galleries in this video tour of the Met (don't miss him discussing the Kouros...this one is on the upcoming quiz).

So why all this fuss about items that have been lying about, quite literally, for ages?

And it's not just here in New York either. In addition to the fierce new efforts by Italy and Greece to reclaim items they say were illegally taken from their shores (and were proven in a few cases to have been), there's a brand spanking new museum in Rome dedicated to her ancient Imperial Forums. As
Elisabeth Rosenthal reports on the International Herald Tribune's blog Globespotters (see image here of bronze head ["Testa bronzea del filosofo Crisippo dal Templum Pacis"], from the museum's collection):
This fall, an ancient architectural gem called Trajan’s Market (Mercati Di Traiano), re-opened after a two year renovation. Unearthed from Rome’s hills only during the Mussolini era (1920s-30s) there is no proof that the structure ever actually functioned as a market. No matter.

It has now been spiffed up by a team of Italian architects and designers, who cleaned the stones and added glass panels and subtle lighting to the soaring arches of the two story structure. Voila!: Trajan’s Market now houses a beautifully designed (if not beautifully organized) museum dedicated to Rome’s Imperial Forums.
What's really interesting about the Mercati Di Traiano, though, is it's also incorporating work by contemporary artists, like the current exhibition by Kan Yasuda (installation view here):

The exhibition is dedicated to the great Japanese sculptor who creates pure shapes, reducing language to basics. The sculpture, set along an exhibition route that forms a small semi-circle between the Via Biberatica and the Grande Aula, seem to be living presences inviting visitors to contemplation and silence. The works of art have been created by the artist in Carrara marble, bronze and black granite.
So, I ask again, why this resurgence of interest (read: big investments) in antiquities? Why now? Is it simply there's plenty of money about now to spiff things up? Is it more of a zeitgeist...perhaps a need to look to the past for answers in these turbulent times? Is the integration of the old into what's new (also see: the Met's touch screens computer terminals in the G&R galleries) merely a cycle that replays itself...neo-neo-neo-classicism? Or does this reflect the desire of the movers and shakers of our new gilded age to polish these heirlooms all the better to see their own reflections in them?

Labels: ,

3 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

Or does this reflect the desire of the movers and shakers of our new gilded age to polish these heirlooms all the better to see their own reflections in them?

Ouch! I'd like to think it's a moment in time to reflect on the importance of where we have come from. The image of the juxapposed contemporary work says it all for me.

1/04/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Denny Greenway said...

Could it be the tiresome incest of much nybased art has led investors to the tried and true?

1/05/2008 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Could it be the tiresome incest of much nybased art has led investors to the tried and true?

I doubt it.

1/05/2008 02:22:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home