April on Art
In South Florida and Beyond
It started with an argument. My friend of mine insisted that Hellenic art was far superior to Hellenistic art. A teacher in the humanities, she was talking about classical Greek art produced when city states like Athens flourished. Of course, I had to admit the Acropolis is beautifully proportioned...But overall, I had to say, "No," to her infatuation with classical Greek sculpture. "Maybe the drawings on Greek vases are lovely," I added. "But nothing can compare to certain Hellenistic statues. At least not until the Renaissance produced Bernini. Just take a look at the Dying Gaul created in Hellenistic Greece, Alexander the Great's time."
To prove my point, I searched online for the original of this statue, shown here, and actually a Roman copy of the Hellenistic statue. It is magnificent. And it is the reason I was so, so disappointed when I saw a lesser version three years ago. It was in New York City where the Metro Metropolitan Museum of Art had opened its blockbuster Pergamon exhibition July 2016. They actually bragged that the exhibit included the Dying Gaul--with no admission that it was a "copy of a copy" with very little of the emotional force of the original (at least to me.)
Just go back and look at the original at the top of my blog post. There is an elegance to the young man. He is wearing only one thing, a torque--a stiff metal neck ring worn by Celtic nobles who went into battle. The statue captures our hearts as see life fading out of this heroic man's beautiful body. Just examining it catches our breath and reminds us of the shortness of life; how life can end suddenly, even when at its fullest and most magnificent as personified in the beautiful body and spirit of this warrior.
"Art washes away