CULTURE

The American College of Greece opens up its large art collection to the public

An art collection that began more than a century ago and expanded through the years to include a broad variety ranging from antiquities, religious icons, photography and modern art is finally being documented, studied and made public for the first time. The American College of Greece, which owns this broad-ranging collection, has begun several projects to this effect. Less than a year ago it hired a curator who began organizing and expanding the collection as well as designing a comprehensive website (www.ACGart.gr) to be launched any day now. Last week, the college also inaugurated, at its premises in Aghia Paraskevi, the «Art Center» a new ample art space, part of which will hold temporary exhibitions, most of them featuring its own collection. Some exhibitions will include works on loan that will allow comparisons within the existing collection. This exhibition, called «ACG Collection: Highlights,» includes some antiquities and post-Byzantine icons as well as works by contemporary artists such as Takis, Yiannis Tsarouchis and Nikos Hadzikyriakos-Ghika, who are all well-represented in this collection. There are also works by Alexis Akrithakis, Spyros Vassileiou, Vassilis Fotopoulos, Frosso Michalea and some younger artists. Megakles Rogakos, a formerly London-based curator who has collaborated with the Tate Gallery and is now curator of the ACG collection, has worked toward opening the collection up to the work of young artists and to contemporary media such as video, formerly missing from the collection. But the bulk of his work has been in organizing the collection for the purposes of the website. During his research, Rogakos was pleasantly surprised to discover some treasures among the finds. Late 19th century photographs by the Constantinople-based Abdullah brothers (Vicen, Hovsep and Kevork) are, according to Rogakos, some of the rarest pieces in the photography portion of the collection – a total of 62 pieces, many of them portraits of the college presidents. He also singles out a rare ancient Greek skyphos cups from 500 BC showing satyrs seducing maenads. The skyphos is from the Alexander D. Kalovidouris donation and is previously unpublished. In the course of his work, Rogakos also identified previously unknown works. A terracotta mask by Ghika inspired by the Medusa Rondanini, a fourth-century marble copy of a fifth-century original, is an example. The Ghika mask is from the Kimon Friar bequest. A detailed description of practically every work is included on the website, which is still under construction. In its present form, the site offers considerable information. There are descriptions of each work and, in most cases, extensive analysis of both artists and the works. The site also provides the user with various options of visiting the collection: through artists, «art forms» such as painting and drawing, and «art types» such as Christian and Traditional. Links and large photographs also enhance the interactive tour. Through the website and thanks to the meticulous work and initiative of the curator, a relatively unknown collection will soon be more accessible not just to the broad public but to researchers as well. The exhibition at the American College of Greece (6 Gravias, Aghia Paraskevi) runs through 22/7. 130-year anniversary The American College of Greece was founded in 1875 by American Christian missionaries. Initially, it served as a primary and secondary school for girls in Smyrna in Asia Minor but a decade later expanded into higher education. With the 1922 expulsion of the Greeks from Smyrna, the college closed down and reopened a year later in Athens with the help of Eleftherios Venizelos. In memory of the the wife of a benevolent supporter, it was named Orlinda Childs Pierce College in 1936. Pierce is a girls’ secondary school and Deree is a college modeled after an undergraduate American college.