Exploring post-Byzantium Greece

Tributes promoting Greek culture abroad usually focus on antiquity or Byzantium. The post-Byzantine years are often left in the dark; the scope of artistic and intellectual creativity during the four centuries between the fall of Constantinople and the 19th-century War for Independence has not been sufficiently emphasized. Benaki exhibits However, a striking exhibition which is due to open at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York on December 14, and featuring valuable exhibits from the Benaki Museum’s extensive collections, has set its focus on that period of Greek history. The exhibition, titled «From Byzantium to Modern Greece: Hellenic Art in Adversity, 1453-1830,» will run through to May 6, 2006; the exhibition will be trying to show that even during the occupation, cultural activity remained high and, despite the smothering pressure, the conscience of unity and preservation of tradition were strengthened. Visitors will have the opportunity to admire some of the Benaki Museum treasures which testify to the blossoming of church art, as well as exquisite specimens of non-religious art. The 137 pieces include beautiful jewelry, embroidery, clothes, ceramics, rare editions, maps and the El Greco (Domenicos Theotokopoulos) painting «The Adoration of the Magi.» At a recent press conference, President of the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation Antonis Papadimitriou pointed out that with this exhibition the public will be able to understand the historical and cultural framework that led to the creation of modern Greece. Benaki Museum Director Angelos Delivorias stressed, once again, the Greek state’s lack of support in the museum’s efforts to organize exhibitions abroad. He also mentioned the exhibition’s catalogue, which provides a well-documented study of the particular historical period. Assistant editor Electra Georgoula said that all the exhibits form a charming narrative that will introduce the public in New York to the period of the occupation.