The common perception is that the great statues and buildings of ancient Greece and Rome were all pure unpainted stone or green tarnished bronze, but researchers have been arguing that this may not been what these classic monuments really looked like back in the era of their creation. That, in fact, these statues were quite alive and vibrant, full of color.
Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity is a travelling exhibition of varying format and extent that has been shown in multiple cities worldwide. Its subject is ancient polychromy, i.e. the original, brightly painted, appearance of ancient sculpture and architecture. It features more than 20 full-size color reconstructions of Greek and Roman works, alongside 35 original statues and reliefs.
The color reconstructions are based on close examination of the originals and on scientific analysis of the scarce traces of paint remaining on them. Ultraviolet light, says Ebbinghaus, “brings out ‘paint ghosts,’ differences in the surface structure of the stone caused by different paints and by the weathering of the paints. It can often give you an idea of patterns, even if no pigments survive.” The paint on these reproductions of stone sculptures appears flat, lacking the depth of, say, oil. “We can identify the colorants—mostly minerals and some plants,” says Ebbinghaus, “but binding media are hard to identify. Egg has been used for the reconstructions. If the minerals were ground more finely, a different binding medium used, the paint polished or covered with a protective coating, the effect would be quite different.”
“We now assume that almost all Greek marble sculpture was painted,” she says. “These reconstructions can only be approximations,” but at least they dispel a popular misconception—that most statues of antiquity were plain old white. Plain would not be thought ideal until the Renaissance.
Researchers believe, particalurly Vinzenz Brinkmann who has been doing this research for the past 25 years, that artists used mineral and organic based colors and after centuries of deterioration any trace of pigment leftover when discovered, would have been taken off during any cleaning processes done before being put on display, washing the historical art clear of its true colors.
The findings of this research completley changes the commonly held modern ideas of the ancient world, and the way we view modern sculpture and art today, much of which was based on those classical Greek and Roman styles.
Successfully navigated the DC metro and bus systems, bought a SmarTrip pass, found my internship building, and strolled through town from the capitol to the white house.
Was feeling pretty boss until three different guys in a row asked me for directions and I had to awkwardly confess that I knew nothing about anything. But I’ll learn!
First day of work tomorrow, leggooo
In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who understands you. There just has to be someone who wants to.Robert Brault (via humblebees)
“It’s as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid.”
That’s what Jamie Griffin says the BP man told her about the smelly, rainbow-streaked gunk coating the floor of the “floating hotel” where Griffin was feeding hundreds of cleanup workers during the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, the workers were tracking the gunk inside on their boots. Griffin, as chief cook and maid, was trying to clean it. But even boiling water didn’t work.
“The BP representative said, ‘Jamie, just mop it like you’d mop any other dirty floor,’” Griffin recalls in her Louisiana drawl.
It was the opening weeks of what everyone, echoing President Barack Obama, was calling “the worst environmental disaster in American history.” At 9:45 p.m. local time on April 20, 2010, a fiery explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had killed 11 workers and injured 17. One mile underwater, the Macondo well had blown apart, unleashing a gusher of oil into the gulf. At risk were fishing areas that supplied one third of the seafood consumed in the U.S., beaches from Texas to Florida that drew billions of dollars’ worth of tourism to local economies, and Obama’s chances of reelection. Republicans were blaming him for mishandling the disaster, his poll numbers were falling, even his 11-year-old daughter was demanding, “Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?”
Griffin did as she was told: “I tried Pine-Sol, bleach, I even tried Dawn on those floors.” As she scrubbed, the mix of cleanser and gunk occasionally splashed onto her arms and face.
Within days, the 32-year-old single mother was coughing up blood and suffering constant headaches. She lost her voice. “My throat felt like I’d swallowed razor blades,” she says.
Then things got much worse.
Like hundreds, possibly thousands, of workers on the cleanup, Griffin soon fell ill with a cluster of excruciating, bizarre, grotesque ailments. By July, unstoppable muscle spasms were twisting her hands into immovable claws. In August, she began losing her short-term memory. After cooking professionally for 10 years, she couldn’t remember the recipe for vegetable soup; one morning, she got in the car to go to work, only to discover she hadn’t put on pants. The right side, but only the right side, of her body “started acting crazy. It felt like the nerves were coming out of my skin. It was so painful. My right leg swelled—my ankle would get as wide as my calf—and my skin got incredibly itchy.”
[Photo: Benjamin Lowy/Getty]