Danish museum exposes 'white lies' of antiquity

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Danish museum exposes 'white lies' of antiquity
The Caligula sculpture both in its classic form and in full colour. Photos: Ny Calrlsberg Glyptotek/Archäologischen Institut der Universität Göttingen and Stiftung Archäologie, Munich

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptoket will present over 100 works that have added full colour to the classic white marble so closely associated with Western history. See a video showing classic art being getting the full-colour treatment here.


Picture Michelangelo’s David and what do you see? Your mind most likely conjures up an image of a nude male sculpted in marble. If you know your art history, you might think of David’s symbolism as the strength of Florence or the position of his head looking toward Rome. 
But one thing you don’t see is colour. 
David, like so many other classic Western sculptural art, was pure white. But a new exhibit at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek art museum in Copenhagen aims to prove that “the white marble of antiquity was merely a tenacious myth” by colourising classical sculptures. 
The museum will feature 120 original works and reconstructions that take the classic white view of Western culture and add full colour. 
“From the Renaissance on, artists, art historians and philosophers viewed the pure white sculpture and architecture as an ideal and guide for their own age and thoughts,” Glypoteket states in a press release. 
“White marble became synonymous with the noble and the spiritual – a guarantee of aesthetic, ethical and political superiority. The concrete evidence of Antiquity’s widespread use of colour was, therefore, typically ignored, denied,  and, in certain cases, brutally purged from Greek and Roman sculptures,” it continues. 
The exhibition will show original works juxtaposed with colourful reconstructions in an effort to show that “our reading of the classical motifs sometimes changes radically when the sculptures appear in colour”.
The exhibition, Transformations: Classical Sculpture in Colour, will be at The New Carlsberg Glyptoket from September 13th through December 7th. 


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