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Sculpture as the ancients intended


colours revealed in ancient sculptures (Photo by: NY Carlsberg Glyptotek)

September 11, 2014
00:00

by Federica Palombra


This September, Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket will experiment with the reconstruction of ancient sculptures in colour, as they were originally. 

With some 120 original works and reconstructions, the artistic itinerary is chronologically organised, from the better known use of colour in Egypt to the Greek and the Roman section.  
An international team of archaeologists, conservators and natural scientists are studying the polychromy of the Greek and Roman statues, turning the idea of the white world of antiquity upside down. 

“A supernatural perfection of the ancient sculptures, which have always led them to a level of abstraction, doesn’t exclude the sensuality of the colour,” explains Jan Stubbe Østergaard, the exhibition’s research curator and project co-ordinator. 


The research, which started 30 years ago using new technology in art, permitted the team to juxtapose colours as revealed under digital photography and microscopy, although in some cases their traces were visible to the naked eye.Neoclassicism definitively contributed to spread the idea of absolute white associated with purity, and the evidence of the antiquities’ widespread use of colour was often ignored in art history. 

Transformation means investigation and recalls the work in progress of the project, but the final result of the transformation as conservation brings the works back to their origins. 
The pedagogical aim of the exhibition is to identify and document the real concept of colours and show that our reading of the classical motifs can radically change when sculptures appear in colour.

Transformation opens Sep 13; Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, Dante Plads 7, Cph K; glyptoteket.dk

 

 



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