CULTURE

The power of art in New York

Art is powerful and the extent of this power becomes clearer in times of crisis. An upcoming exhibition of works by Greek jeweler Ilias Lalaounis makes this point. Titled MicroSculptures: Idols from the Stone Age to the Helix of Contemporary Genetics, the exhibition will open at the Onassis Cultural Center at New York’s Olympic Tower on November 1 (running until February 10, 2002). By coincidence, the exhibition is taking place during grim times, said Stelios Papadimitriou, chairman of the Onassis Foundation at yesterday’s press conference. Given the situation, however, it stresses our will not to let fanatics overpower civilization. Going on display are 240 small sculptures and objets d’art, all of which belong to the permanent collections of the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum. (The museum was established in 1993). A number of objects will be shown for the very first time, while others have already traveled to various exhibitions in France, Japan, the United States, Switzerland, Britain, Iran, Turkey and, most recently, Russia. The upcoming exhibition in New York, however, is the first one to be devoted exclusively to Lalaounis’s sculptures. Born in Athens in 1920, Lalaounis began working in the family business in 1940 – both his father and grandfather were watchmakers. Initially, he started working on established designs, while later on he focused on gem-setting. In the mid-1950s, however, everything changed, when he immersed himself in the revival of designs and techniques stemming from ancient Greece. With his novel silver, 18- and 22-carat gold pieces, the move was highly successful, one which gradually established the Lalaounis name on an international level. Other civilizations and cultures, besides his homeland, were a source of inspiration, as well as nature. Furthermore, in the 1970s, Lalaounis began developing a keen interest in technological and scientific achievements. Visitors to the New York exhibition will be looking at pieces chosen from six collections: Dawn of Europe (1976), inspired by the late Stone Age as well as the idea of a united Europe; The Shield of Achilles (1978), where Lalaounis demonstrates his passion for Aegean Bronze Age sculptures and Greek literature through seals; Owls (1975), the symbol of wisdom, a collection consolidating the notion that classical shapes and forms can inspire modern works of art; Wild Flowers (1970), showcasing the wealth of flora in the Greek and general Mediterranean landscape; Microcosm (1974), a look at the world of insects; and finally the DNA collection, inspired by recent groundbreaking developments in genetics, namely the new data gathered on the human genome. Complementing the exhibition are two short video presentations and a number of guided tours. DRY CARGO