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Is Beauty the Main Thing?

From 29th May 2014

The exhibition „Is Beauty the Main Thing?“ concentrates on on the traditional depictions of beauty and ugliness, spirit and authority in portraiture from classical antiquity.

Portraits represent the models not only by realistically depicting them, but also point to their social prestige and political role. This, in turn, inevitably gives rise to certain traditions with deeply ideological backgrounds. The Greeks' approach to beauty is largely voiced by poets and philosophers, thus affecting the notion of ugliness.

Aesthetic concepts are inevitably intertwined with ethic principles. The exhibition compels one to look past appearances – Socrates the philosopher, though considered unattractive by his contemporaries, was the embodiment of important ethical values to them and the succeeding generations.

The epitome of beautiful ugliness – Medusa – counterpoints Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Will Medusa's petrifying gaze make us doubt the canons of beauty? Do we agree with Democritus, who says that silence is becoming for women? All the more since Sappho, the first and most important female poet of the classical era, was vital in formulating the Greek approach to beauty.

Yet beauty can prove to be dangerous, as proven by the chosen myths. Thus, a balance must be found between beauty moderated and frantic, or even more – to try to discard transient beauty.

Check for information on summer tours at the museum and exhibition.


Medusa Rondanini