Six themes at an exhibition: Greek works travel to China

One-hundred-and-twenty ancient artifacts, most of them from warehouses in 37 museums round the country, will travel to China for the exhibition «Ancient Greece: Mortals and Immortals,» organized by the Ministry of Culture at China’s national museum as part of events for the Olympic Games in August. The artifacts will be on display from July to the end of September in a museum hall that covers 1,000 square meters (it lies opposite Mao’s mausoleum in Tiananmen Square). Structured around six thematic units, the exhibition aims to show the dominant place held by human beings in Greek civilization, as this was depicted in art. The items come from the museums of Athens, the Acropolis, Olympia, Delphi, Volos, Larissa, Delos, Iraklion and Tinos, among others. Works of Chinese art will also be sent to Athens in exchange. The first unit will consist of 20 works from pre-Greek and early Greek art (a series of figurines that render the human form as it was conceived of by those cultures, beginning with the Neolithic era and continuing right through the Cycladic and Minoan civilizations in the Bronze Age). Six Mycenaean figurines and the Tanagra sarcophagus, with its procession of mourners, introduce the first stages of the development of Greek art (16th-11th centuries BC). Following these are works, chiefly statues and figurines, which date from the 10th century BC to the second century AD. The second unit, «Immortals,» consists of 29 figurines, statuettes, bronze mirrors and vases from the seventh century BC to the early Christian era that depict gods (from the 12 Olympians to Asclepius, Hygeia and Cybele). Twenty-four items will make up the next unit, «From Immortals to Mortals,» which comprises figures that fall between two stools, either because they possess divine attributes or because they live exclusively in the sphere of myth. Alexander the Great rounds off the section. Three reliefs follow, which demonstrate the tendency to represent institutions and abstract concepts in human form (the Deme, the Boule). The fifth unit, with 30 works on mortals, shows the ways in which male, female and children’s figures were perceived and rendered down the centuries. Lastly, the sixth unit depicts scenes from daily life (including a conjugal scene, mother and child, a scene from the women’s quarters, an athlete and a shipwrecked sailor). The exhibition also includes seven pieces of jewelry from the Hellenistic period, which will be displayed separately.

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