On October 5th, 2010, the Affiliated Onassis Foundation in New York opened the doors to the exhibition “Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece”. The exhibition has been organized by the Foundation in cooperation with the Walters Art Museum of Baltimore, the San Diego Museum of Art and the Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville.
The gallant figures of Hercules, Achilles, Odysseus and Helen continue to date to fire popular imagination fulfilling the human need for role models. Yet, the word “hero” had in antiquity –when, according to that time’s popular belief, was rife with heroes– a different meaning than the one it has nowadays.
“People today think of the Greek heroes and heroines as great fictional characters invented by poets ad stoyrtellers,” stated Ambassador Loucas Tsilas, Executive Director of the Onassis Foundation (USA), adding that “to the ancient Greeks, they were real men and women who had lived, died and then somehow transcended death."
According to Dr. Regine Schulz, Curator at the Walters Art Museum, “the Greek ancient heroes possessed supernatural powers but were also human and had weaknesses. They were fearless, omnipotent and beautiful; they broke the time barrier and their name has been associated with feats, labours, loves and discords. Greek art has depicted these heroes in sculptures and vessels revealing thus the dimensions of their heroism."
The exhibition brings todgether more than ninety exceptional artworks focussing on the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic period, drawn from collections in the United States and Europe.
Highlights of the exhibition include a black-figured amphora depicting Achilles and Ajax playing a board game outside Troy’s walls (late sixth century B.C.), a black-figure column krater depicting Odysseus escaping from the cave of the cyclops Polyphemos (c. 510 B.C), a marble relief sculpture of scenes from the Trojan War (first century A.D.), a sculpture of Hercules as a beardless youth (first or second century A.D.), a marble sculpture of the head of Polyphemos (first or second century A.D.), a gold medallion with the bust of Alexander the Great (c. 218-235 A.D.), a bronze Corinthian helmet (700-500 B.C.) and many more.
Accompanying the exhibition, which will be on view until January 3rd, 2011, is a 328-page fully illustrated catalogue, edited by Sabine Albersmeier from the Walters Art Museum.