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Colourful Gods
The Vibrant Colours of Ancient Sculpture

13.07.2010 to 03.10.2010


White marble, shimmering in the bright light of the Mediterranean: this image has informed our perception of the world of antiquity until now. Generation after generation has been entranced by the purity of material and clarity of expression that seems to hone in on the perfection of forms.

And yet, ancient cities and temples were in fact places of vibrant colour, of a kind that would be confusing, even shocking, to the modern viewer. Statements by ancient authors and archaeological finds attest to the fact that not only sculptures but even buildings were adorned with colourful paint. Remnants of such coats of paint have been scientifically analysed and the subsequent findings used to make colourful reconstructions of sculptures in plaster, cultured and cold cast marble that use original colour pigments.

This exhibition, first unveiled in Munich in 2003 and subsequently added to over the years at several of its ports of call both within Germany and abroad, is now due to go on display in one of the world's most important collections of ancient sculptures, the Collection of Classical Antiquities in the Pergamonmusuem in Berlin. A unique feature of the Berlin exhibition is the juxtaposition of the famous 'Berlin Goddess' (a statue from the 6th century BC) with the colourful reconstruction of a standing figure that was created around the same time, the 'Phrasikleia' from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Both sculptures bear rich signs of a painted surface and provide a vivid picture of archaic sculpture in all its creative detail.