This is the first time the British Museum has toured an exhibition to a regional Australian venue, and the Bendigo Art Gallery is pleased to be also the first Australian venue to host The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece.
Over two millennia, the ancient Greeks experimented with the representation of the human body in works that range from abstract simplicity to the realism of the age of Alexander the Great. By exploring ideas of representation, this international touring exhibition shares with new audiences artworks that have shaped the way that we think about and look at ourselves.
The portrayal of human character is explained, along with sexual and social identity. In athletics the male body was displayed as if it were a living sculpture, and victors were commemorated by actual statues.
In art, not only were mortal men and women represented, but also the gods and other beings of myth and the supernatural world. They were either conceived in the image of humankind or in monstrous combinations of human and animal form.
The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece includes a 1:200 scale model reproduction of Olympia and its many buildings as it would have looked around 100 BC. Included are many highlights of the British Museum’s collection which had never been loaned before this tour: the Discobolus – a marble Roman copy of the famous sculpture made by Myron in 5th century BC, Bronze figure of Jupiter, 1st–2nd century AD; Marble head from a colossal statue of Hercules, AD 117–118; and the Marble statue of Socrates, 200 BC–AD 100
“We are thrilled to be presenting this exciting exhibition in collaboration with the British Museum; especially to be the exclusive Australian venue,” says Bendigo Art Gallery Director, Karen Quinlan.
“The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece will give audiences the rare opportunity to see over 100 historical works including the impressive Discobolus; an iconic marble statue of a discus thrower from the second century AD.”
“I am delighted that the British Museum can share with Bendigo and the people of Victoria such star objects from its collection as the famous sculpture of a discus thrower,” says Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor.
“Before its world tour this – and indeed many others in the exhibition – had never been seen outside the UK.”
The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece is curated by Dr Ian Jenkins who is responsible for the ancient Greek collection in the British Museum and is a world authority on Greek architecture, sculpture and ancient Greek social history. He worked on this project with assistant curator Victoria Turner, with whom he recently published The Greek Body (British Museum Press, 2009).
The Body Beautiful in Ancient Greece will be on exhibition at the Bendigo Regional Gallery in the latter half of 2014. For more information, visit: www.bendigoartgallery.com.au for details.
Image: Marble sphinx, from Monte Cagnolo outside Laruium, near Rome, Italy. Roman c. AD 120–140. © The Trustees of the British Museum