“The new is better,” Bertolt Brecht emphatically notes in his poetic work. But the new is not modern, the General Director of the Acropolis Museum, Mr. Nikolaos Chr. Stambolidis, could claim through the new exhibition, Meanings, whose idea he conceived and is scientifically responsible for.
The collection of 164 works of art – coming from the most important museum collections of Europe and Greece – is precisely a repository of works whose periodization extends from Ancient Greece to modern times.
“The great and the important”, through objects of art and decoration, as conceptually distinguished by the director of the Acropolis Museum himself, defects and gifts, passions and desires, superstitions and prejudices, political, religious and institutional manifestations, all of which are outgrowths of human presence in this world and beyond. The explicit and the ineffable ,the fears and turmoil of the human intellect ,the body and its orbit in the earthly sphere.
As Mr Stambolidis himself has argued in a previous statement, “although times are passing, one thing remains unchanged: human weakness.”
If Harold Bloom in his book “The Western Canon” claims that Shakespeare invented the science of psychology by setting as a cognitive tool the concept of reflection and proclaims him as the father of psychoanalysis, Mr.Stambolidis proves, through vases and sculptures, through images and symbols, that reflection was already present in Ancient Greece. It had a place in symbolism in objects of everyday life and in those of cultic rites.
The conversation of the objects through the centuries gives an excellent reason for the re-reading of the Archaeological collections of the whole country and a fresh idea of visual comparative literature, leaving behind the repeated strict approaches of a simple and strictly scientific approach to the findings by region and by period.
It also follows the spirit of the age of interdisciplinarity and the need to talk about the great figures of human history and to remove obsessive one-sided approaches. Of cooperation, art and science for a better future now that superstition has given way to technology, but that the latter will never be able to do away with the need for a profound spirituality.
Mr Stambolidis himself, in the presentation of the exhibition, notes:
“When creating an Exhibition I always keep in mind the saying of the Italian philosopher and historian Pier Giovanni Guzzo that an Exhibition, in order to be given to the public, must be based on its scientific documentation, without which it is nothing more than a culturocosmic event, often even marketable.
This Exhibition, entitled Meanings. “Personifications and Allegories from Antiquity to the Present”, was chosen mainly because of its difficulty in conveying in the temporary exhibition hall of the Acropolis Museum not just a dialogue between two different creative eras but a tetralogy, which would present together four different periods of art: Antiquity, Byzantium, Renaissance and Modern Art. In other words, how Greek antiquity conceives, designs and renders an idea and how it then passes through and runs through the later periods I mentioned before.
The one-word title of Meanings, with 6 of its 7 letters in capital letters and the second letter in lower case, is the one that refers to the meanings of the thematic plot, as personifications, symbolisms and allegories are decisive constants that run through the exhibition as timeless threads. Characteristically anthropocentric, Greek culture not only depicts its gods in the image and likeness of humans, but also personifies nature itself, time, concepts, ideas and institutions, its psyche, emotions and arts.
Allegory of Slander, ca. 1530, Sandro Boticelli, Rome, Galleria Colonna
This Exhibition should be taken as an example, as it would be impossible to transport and exhibit all those works that I would like to represent its sections. In other words, it would be impossible to carry out a maximalist realization with the participation of hundreds of works. The reasons for the impracticality of this desire are well known to those who still nowadays adopt the “experiential” way of seeing the works up close in their respective composition and contexts, rather than just looking at them on the screen of their ipad, laptop or computer, losing the sense of three-dimensionality, of the views and combinations that they themselves would like to follow in their actual tour.
The exhibition consists of 165 works of small, medium and large size from different materials and periods: coins, ceramic and clay shells, vases, reliefs, statues, manuscripts and books, frescoes and paintings. Essentially a palimpsest of materials and works of different kinds is composed here to show, even vaguely, the penetration of personifications and allegories not only in the major but also in the decorative arts. These are essentially works not as it happens but selected works that correspond more or less numerically to the reasons explained above.
Νike Fixing Her Sandal, 410 B.C., Acropolis Museum
The Exhibition is divided into six sections: Time, Nature, Deities, Man & Human Nature, Institutions, “Allegories” and an Epilogue. Each of these has one or more subsections, depending on the number of works we managed to collect for the four-month duration of the exhibition at the Acropolis Museum.
The shape of the Sections in the space of the temporary exhibitions is a knitted one. An effort was made to ensure that the visitors’ path is not only chronological and linear, but that there are avenues for the eye to escape and possibly follow a path to related Sections or subsections, a difficult and complex task that often exhausted our strengths”.
Personifications and Allegories from Antiquity to Today
4/12/2023 – 14/4/2024