PROVO, Utah — Utahns interested in the Summer Games don’t need to travel around the world to experience Greece. A new exhibition at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art features two galleries full of ancient Greek sculpture and pottery that will satisfy visitors’ curiosity about this classic civilization’s art, history and culture.
“Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World: Egypt, Greece, Rome,” from the renowned collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, features works spanning a period from pre-dynastic times in Egypt, 6000 years ago, to the Roman late imperial period, about 350 A.D.
“We are thrilled to have such a rare collection of Greek works at the Museum of Art during the Summer Games in Athens,” said Cheryll May, museum educator. “These are some of the finest examples of ancient Greek ceramics and statuary in the world.”
Highlights from the Greek works in this exhibition include very fine ceramic works from the Archaic (c. 600-480 B.C.), Classical (c. 480-330 B.C.) and Hellenistic (c. 330-30 B.C.) periods. A gallery dedicated to these works called “The Vase Place” includes excellent examples of Greek decoration techniques known as “black-figure,” “red-figure” and “white-ground.”
A gallery dedicated mainly to Greek statuary called “The Classical Court” features sculptures, such as the Head of Isis and the Head of Aphrodite, which reflect the Classic Ideal. This concept, established by the Greeks of the Golden Age, incorporates principles of proportion that are recognized today as measures of beauty and perfection.
Many of the images represented in Greek sculpture and vase paintings are of athletes and warriors in the ancient world. The Greeks exhibited a great concern for the development of the body and paid close attention to the anatomy of their subjects. Greek artists showed an understanding of muscles and movement never used before in depictions of the human form.
This exhibition was organized under the auspices of the Department of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art, and the Department of Classical Art (Greek and Roman) of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. These two curatorial departments are among the oldest departments of the museum. The richness of their collections is outstanding, even compared to similar collections at other museums in the United States and Europe.
Objects in this exhibition depict a history extending more than 5,000 years, from the flint arrowheads which date from the Egyptian Neolithic period (approx. 5000 BC) to the crossbow safety pin (ca. 340-360 AD) which comes from the Late Imperial Period of Rome.
Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations did not develop in sequence or in parallel. These civilizations underwent changes in a complicated and interactive manner in terms of both era and region. There are no clear demarcations among the three. This exhibition demonstrates how the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations influenced one another throughout their histories. What acted as a mediator for the interaction of people and propagation of cultures was the “Mediterranean Sea,” which serves as the key word for this exhibition. Cultures and art styles fostered in the respective climates were brought to other places through travel and trade and became mingled with and influenced by indigenous cultures, resulting in new styles.
This exhibition offers abundant examples of the intermingling of these three cultures. It also exposes visitors to a wide variety of disciplines: history, archaeology, folklore, geography, religion, and culture. Thanks to the plentiful collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the excellence of the works themselves, the exhibition will allow visitors to explore the various disciplines listed above without limiting themselves to art history alone.
Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World attracts us, since the works clearly reflect traces of the rise and fall of power-seekers over thousands of years, the daily needs of people–which have remained unchanged–and above all, their creative energy
“Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World: Egypt, Greece, Rome,” will be on display until June 4, 2005. Ticket prices for this special exhibition are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for students and groups of six or more. For more information, call the BYU Museum of Art at (801) 378-ARTS or visit on the Web at www.byu.edu/moa .