Between reality and representation. Portraits, objects, and collectors

Christian, Kathleen (2015). Between reality and representation. Portraits, objects, and collectors. In: Settis, Salvatore; Anguissola, Anna and Gasparotto, Davide eds. Serial / Portable Classic. The Greek Canon and its Mutations. Milan: Fondazione Prada.


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  • Item ORO ID
  • 43751
  • Item Type
  • Book Section
  • ISBN
  • 88-87029-61-X, 978-88-87029-61-1
  • Extra Information
  • Exhibition ‘Serial Classic’ (09 May – 24 Aug 2015), co-curated by Salvatore Settis and Anna Anguissola, focuses on classical sculpture and explores the ambivalent relationship between originality and imitation in Roman culture and its insistence on the circulation of multiples as an homage to Greek art.

    We tend to associate the idea of classical to that of uniqueness, but in no other period of western art history the creation of copies from great masterpieces of the past has been as important as in late Republican Rome and throughout the Imperial age.

    The exhibition comprises more than 70 artworks and opens with an in-depth analysis of lost originals and their multiple copies, represented by two particularly renowned series such as the Discobolus and the Crouching Venus.

    Two other important sections are devoted to the materials and the colours of classical bronzes and marbles. The Kassel Apollo, for instance, is presented in two recent plaster casts which reproduce the original bronze surface of the lost Greek original and the colours of its Roman marble copies.

    Another section of the exhibition illustrates the technologies and methods used in the making of the copies, presenting two essential moments such as the creation of the plaster cast and the translation of proportions and measurements on the new block of marble. Two famous series are also featured in the exhibition, the Penelope, and the ‘Caryatides, on the prototype of the Erechtheion in Athens.

    Exhibition Portable Classic (09 May – 13 Sep 2015), co-curated by Salvatore Settis and Davide Gasparotto, explores the origins and functions of miniature reproductions of classical sculptures, showcasing more than 80 artworks on the ground and first floor at Ca’ Corner della Regina.

    Both in ancient Rome and modern Europe a true ‘canon’ of sculptures was created, considered as an undisputed peak of excellence of a given subject. Their prestige was so high that, since it was almost impossible to acquire the originals, their reproductions, even on a small scale, were eagerly sought for by well-read audiences.

    An example of this is the Farnese Hercules, displayed in a 317 cm high plaster cast exhibited next to a series of modern smaller-scale reproductions in marble, bronze and terracotta, measuring 15 to 130 cm.

    Some classical small-scale masterpieces are presented along with Renaissance multiples, through the examples of the Marsyas (Ignudo della paura) and the Crouching Venus.

    Another section of the exhibition is devoted to important art collectors from the 1500’s. In a selection of paintings by Lorenzo Lotto, Tintoretto and Bernardino Licinio, the subjects are portrayed among classical sculptures and plaster casts from their personal collections.

    Starting from the emblematic cases of the Belvedere Torso and the Laocoön, the exhibition illustrates how Renaissance artists employed small-scale copies to elaborate hypotheses on the missing portions of the classical originals.
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities > Art History
    Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities
    Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2015 Not known
  • Depositing User
  • Kathleen Christian