Monday, January 21, 2013

The Hidden Classical World in Los Angeles

Though the Last Days of Pompeii exhibition has recently moved on from the Getty Villa (it's now at the Cleveland Museum of Art), there are other interesting pieces of art with connections to ancient Rome and Greece to be found in Los Angeles right now.  That items of this sort can be found almost randomly in Los Angeles goes to show just how pervasive Greco-Roman culture was in the ancient world and now, and it also attests to the fact that we live in a city remarkably rich in art.
Roman costume from Spartacus

The Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has materials from all of the director's work. Items from his 1960 film Spartacus are on display, including costumes and storyboards from the movie. The degree of detail that Kubrick put into his movies was extraordinary, and the small corner of the exhibition dedicated to this film provides a fascinating glimpse into how movies on ancient Rome were made in his time. The Kubrick exhibition runs through June 30, 2013.
The Art of Continuity at the Pacific Asia Museum 
The Pacific Art Museum in Pasadena currently has on display The Art of Continuity: Revering our Elders, which collects Asian traditions of revering and honoring ancestors.  It's worth visiting to compare the Asian traditions to the Roman mos maiorum, in that the values that both traditions had are similar in some interesting ways.  Revering our Elders is on display until Jan. 5, 2014.
Buddha Shakyamuni
Also in Pasadena, the Norton Simon Museum houses a remarkable collection of Asian art, including spectacular pieces of Buddhist art. One piece in particular, a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni from Gandhara dating to c. 200CE (pictured above), is remarkable for its multicultural features. The Buddha shows the classical hand mudra and ushnisha above his head. But because ancient Gandhara (modern Pakistan) was at a confluence of Greek and Asian culture, thanks to the conquest of Alexander the Great, much art from the region shows Greek influence. Here, the statue possesses a flowing gown and curled hair that are not characteristic of Buddha depictions in older Buddhist art, but rather are standard features belonging to Hellinistic sculpture. This Buddha is part of the Norton Simon's permanent collection. Interest in ancient Gandhara has been on the rise, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York currently has a beautiful exhibition Buddhism art along the Silk Road through Feb. 10, 2013 that also includes several similar examples of Buddhist art with Hellenistic features.

Feel free to add any other potentially interesting items of Classical interest in the greater Los Angeles area below in the comments.