Mask of Dionysos, Boeotia, c. 450–400 BC; Clay, Paris, Musée du Louvre. CA 640 © Photo DNP / Philippe Fuzeau.
TOKYO.- The tenth Louvre - DNP Museum Lab presentation, which closes the second phase of this partnership between the Louvre and Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd (DNP), invites visitors to discover the art of ancient Greece, a civilization which had a significant impact on Western art and culture. They will be able to admire four works from the Louvre's Greek art collection, and in particular a ceramic masterpiece known as the Krater of Antaeus. This experimental exhibition features a series of original multimedia displays designed to enhance the observation and understanding of Greek artworks.
Three of the displays designed for this presentation are scheduled for relocation in 2014 to the Louvre in Paris. They will be installed in three rooms of the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, one of which is currently home to the Venus de Milo. The first two phases of this project, conducted over a seven-year period, have allowed the Louvre and DNP to explore new approaches to art using digital and imaging technologies; the results have convinced them of the interest of this joint venture, which they now intend to pursue along different lines.
Artworks on display. The "Krater of Antaeus", one of the Louvre's must-see masterpieces, provides a perfect illustration of the beauty and quality of Greek ceramics. It is signed by Euphronios, a famously innovative vase painter and one of the artists who took the red-figure technique to an unprecedented level of refinement. The front of the vase shows one of the labours of Heracles: his fight with the giant Antaeus. The dynamic composition and striking rendering of movement reflect the creativity and mastery of Euphronios. But this beautiful vase was also a utilitarian object: it was used for mixing wine and water at the banquet called a symposion in Greek.
The krater is exhibited together with a red-figure cup, a bronze statuette of Heracles and a terracotta mask of Dionysos.
Overview of the tenth presentation. An animated map at the entrance to the exhibition illustrates the expansion of the Greek world in antiquity, providing visitors with contextual information before they view the artworks on display in the presentation room. Near the highlight exhibit, a multimedia display called "The Krater of Antaeus, a Masterpiece of Greek Ceramics" shows how this vase illustrates some essential aspects of Greek art and civilization.
Each of the other artworks on display also serves to illustrate a theme, which is developed during the visit: the codes of representation of the human body are demonstrated by the statuette of Heracles Resting; the iconography of Greek, gods and goddesses is exemplified by the Red-figure Cup, and the importance of the relationship with the gods is demonstrated by the ritual of the symposium, related to the cult of the wine-god Dionysos, presented here in the form of a mask.
The Greek world in antiquity. The ancient Greek world had a long history and covered a vast region beyond the borders of present-day Greece. It was a cradle of dynamic and innovative artistic production.
The presentation's introductory display, entitled "The Greek World in Antiquity", provides geographical and chronological markers illustrated by major works in the Louvre. This animated map, designed as an introduction to the Louvre's collection of Greek art, is scheduled to be relocated to the Paris museum.
Recognizing the Greek gods and heroes. The Greeks were polytheistic: they believed in several gods whom they worshipped with rites, sacrifices and festivals. These gods can be identified by attributes, accessories or details of clothing that evoke an aspect of their lives or functions. On the Krater of Antaeus, Heracles is identifiable by his attributes, notably the lion skin and club.
The display called "Recognising Greek Gods and Heroes" teaches users to distinguish major figures of Greek mythology, such as Aphrodite and Apollo. This display will be transferred to the Louvre's Venus de Milo gallery, which gets some 6 million visitors a year ‒ so it was designed to provide an appropriate amount of intuitively accessible information.
The symposium. The symposium was not just a convivial occasion; it was also a social and religious practice. Under the protection of Dionysos, the god of wine and theatre, men gathered at these banquets to drink wine, to enjoy music, poetry, dancing and games, and to exchange political or philosophical ideas. Our knowledge of the symposium comes from the many lively scenes painted on vases. The display called "Welcome to the Symposium" features animated versions of figures from the vases, projected onto three 20-inch screens, and invites visitors to experience the festive and musical atmosphere of these occasions.
The male nude and the quest for perfection. The human body was the favourite subject of ancient Greek artists, and inspired constant research in terms of harmony, proportion and anatomy.
The depictions of heroes on the Krater of Antaeus and the Red-figure Cup illustrate this pictorial research, while the statue of the resting Heracles is a fine example of representations of the body in Greek sculpture. This statuette is one of the few bronze copies of an original by the sculptor Lysippos, who established a canon of proportions that had a lasting impact on the sculpture of human figures.
The display called "The Male Nude and the Quest for Perfection" invites visitors to take control of an "avatar" projected in front of them; by making it strike the poses of sculptures from different periods, they can see how the representation of the human body evolved in ancient Greek art.
Red-figure calyx krater. Signed by the painter Euphronios, attributed to the potter, Euxitheos. Athens, c. 515–510 BC. Clay. Paris, Musée du Louvre. G 103 © Photo DNP / Philippe Fuzeau.