Inspired By: White Lies

Sculpture of Greek boxer with traces of red paint. Roman copy of Greek original. From the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities' collections.  

Sculpture of Greek boxer with traces of red paint. Roman copy of Greek original. From the Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities' collections.

 

One of my favourite spots in Stockholm is The Museum of Mediterranean and Near Eastern Antiquities. Now and then I venture there with my sketchbook and Bagdad Café is great a great place for a break. I love how the museum is in a former bank built in 1905, with a neo-classical interior, and the ancient Egyptian mummies are displayed in the old bank vault! I've just been to the opening of the exhibition White Lies, and this time I brought my iPad to take notes, scribbles and make sketches with my fingers, during the three lectures.

White Lies, Turning the Western Ideal of Beauty on its Head "The ancient statues of white marble were long regarded as bearers of Western cultural identity and markers of superiority. In actual fact, all ancient sculptures were painted – something that was kept a secret from the Italian Renaissance until the present. However, the most astonishing fact is not that ancient sculptures were once painted, but that leading art critics and museum curators managed to conceal this knowledge from the ordinary museum visitor."

Head of Caligula. Left: Head of Caligula, color reconstruction. Right: Original (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)

Head of Caligula. Left: Head of Caligula, color reconstruction. Right: Original (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)

The exhibition White Lies displays how vibrantly colourful the ancient sculptures actually were. Not at all pristine white monochrome, but richly polychrome. The idea of white marble dates back to the early 16th century, when the Renaissance began excavating statues that had been buried in the earth for centuries. Color traces still visible to the naked eye, deep in the folds of draped clothing, went unnoticed. Following what they believed to be the Greek and Roman example, Italian sculptors — notably Michelangelo — conceived their creations as uncolored.

But there were clues elsewhere, in literature. From Helen of Troy, Euripides' play that bears her name Helen: My life and fortunes are a monstrosity, Partly because of Hera, partly because of my beauty. If only I could shed my beauty and assume an uglier aspect The way you would wipe color off a statue.

I feel thoughtful after seeing White Lies. Thinking about what our other misconceptions of history are. About what we consider beautiful, or prestigious, or fine art and how reluctant we can be to change our view of the world. How our time may be misunderstood in the future. I'm thinking about our selves too. Our mindsets. Both in our small, personal world and the world we live in. How important I think it is to be willing to continuously take stock of one's life and outlook. To constantly redefine, to try to understand oneself and others better and to put that into action. Redefinition.

Some of my sketches and notes from White Lies. Roman sculpture. Professor Vinzenz Brinkmann.

Some of my sketches and notes from White Lies. Roman sculpture. Professor Vinzenz Brinkmann.

© 2014 Marmalade Moon