Antique marble sculpture was not white, but coloured. This is amply and overwhelmingly attested to by ancient literary sources. Whereas the incontestable fact that ancient sculpture was completely coloured was suppressed during the Italian Renaissance, it was recalled in the nineteenth century; in the twentieth century, it once again paled into insignificance, giving way to an aestheticism directed at clarity.
"The approach and presentation in the new ‘Gods in Color’ digitorial offer an extremely effective introduction to the subject,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann, head of the Collections of Antiquities and Asia of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung. This digitorial, available as of now, is the result of a research project with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Numerous traces of the original polychromy in antique sculpture have survived. For more than thirty years, an international team of scholars led by Vinzenz Brinkmann has been conducting research that has brought to light comprehensive new findings on the polychromy of ancient sculptures and keeps continuously working on the project. The exhibition “Gods in Color” resulting from it assembles original ancient sculptures and spectacular reconstructions that bring the “coloured Ancient World” to life again. The show premiered in the Glyptothek in Munich in 2003 before it was shown in the Vatican Museums and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, as well as the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (2006), in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Havard University in Cambridge, Mass. (2007/08), in the Getty Villa in Los Angeles (2008), in the British Museum in London (2015), and other venues. It was presented in the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung in 2008/09 and has become a part of the institution’s collection at the end of 2016.
The interim balance of thirty international venues and far more than two million visitors to date speaks for itself. From 28 October 2017 to 7 January 2018, the exhibition will be on display in the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, one of the two new spheres of activity of the former director of the Liebieghaus Max Hollein.
While the exhibition will guest on the US west coast from autumn on, a research project is already in progress on the east coast today; carried out in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the project focuses on the original polychromy of the so-called “New York Kouros”. A nude male tomb figure of Greek Antiquity, the kouros is one of the earliest forms of a likeness of man in the form of a marble statue. The work in New York, which still shows numerous traces of colour, dates from about 580 BC. The polychromy project of the Liebieghaus headed by Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann is undertaking a scientific analysis of the object in cooperation with scholars on site; the kouros will be subjected to an X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy in October. The research process is aimed at reconstructing the kouros’s original colourfulness.
Thanks to the multimedia “Gods in Color” digitorial, the exhibition with its colourful reconstructions is already accessible to everybody on the Internet before its presentation in San Francisco as of now. Developed by the Liebieghaus, this digital offer allows users to immerse themselves in the impressive world of “Gods in Color” completely free of charge and independent of the physical exhibition. Informative texts, exciting audio elements, and numerous pictures with graphic effects offer multifaceted insights into the fields of polychromy research and colour reconstruction. The theme digitorial is available in both German and English under buntegoetter.liebieghaus.de/en.
The theme digitorial “Gods in Color” has been made possible by the FAZIT Foundation.
On the occasion of the launch of the digitorial “Gods in Color”, Vinzenz Brinkmann will present a lecture on the exhibition project, the theme digitorial, and his most recent research plans and findings in the field of polychromy in the lecture hall of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung on Thursday, 17 August 2017, at 6:30 p.m. Access is included in the admission ticket. Please register by calling +49(0)69-605098-200 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.