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12 octobre 2015

New exhibition, "Hair in the Classical World" at Fairfield University Bellarmine Museum of Art

Bellarmarine-Hair

FAIRFIELD, CT.- Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art presents its new exhibition, Hair in the Classical World, on view from Wednesday, October 7, 2015, through Friday, December 18, 2015. 

From antiquity to the present day, hair has seldom been worn in its natural state. Whether cut, shorn, curled, straightened, braided, beaded, worn in an upsweep or down to the knees, adorned with pins, combs, bows, garlands, extensions, and other accoutrements, hair has the power to reflect societal norms. In ancient cultures, not only did hairstyles and their depictions signal wealth and social status, or divine and mythological iconography; they were also tied to rites of passage and religious rituals. 

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Head of a Man. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cesnola Collection. Purchased by subscription, 1874–76 (74.51.2826). Image, courtesy Fairfield University Bellarmine Museum of Art

As the first exhibition of its kind in the United States, Hair in the Classical World will take you on a cultural journey through ancient Greece, Cyprus, and Rome, and will examine the role of hair in each through three thematic lenses: Arrangement and Adornment; Rituals and Rites of Passage; and Divine and Royal Iconography. Presenting some 33 objects dating from the Bronze Age to late Antiquity (1500 BCE – 600 CE), the exhibition illustrates ways in which hair and hairstyles served as important signifiers in Classical Antiquity. The sculptures, coins, and hair styling tools on view in the exhibition have been lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the American Numismatic Society.  

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Portrait of Julia Domna, Yale University Art Gallery. Ruth Elizabeth White Fund (2010.143.1). © 2015 The Yale University Art Gallery

Dr. Katherine Schwab and Dr. Marice Rose, art history professors in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Fairfield University, teamed up to co-curate this groundbreaking exhibition, which proceeded from Dr. Schwab’s earlier research and the 2009 Caryatid Hairstyling Project. This project—and its internationally screened short film—demonstrated that the complex hairstyles worn by the six ancient marble Caryatids who support the south porch of the Erechtheion (430 BCE) on the Athenian Acropolis, were able to be replicated on contemporary young women, and are therefore historically authentic. Also pertinent is Professor Rose’s research on adornment-related imagery, including hairstyling, in the late Roman Empire, which has been published and presented at national and international conferences.

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Silver 10 drachm (decadrachm), Syracuse, 405 BC - 400 BC. 1964.79.21. Image, courtesy Fairfield University Bellarmine Museum of Art

In conjunction with the exhibition, a rich array of public programs has been planned. Both the exhibition and the related programs (lectures, a symposium, workshops for students and families) take a thought-provoking, novel approach to the study of ancient Mediterranean cultures, highlighting the critical role that hair played in identity and its formation, and how a culture’s ideals shape human appearance, while simultaneously making important connections to identity today.

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Denarius of Augustus, ANS 1957.172.1500 | Tetradrachm of Leontini, ANS 1997.9.121. Image, courtesy Fairfield University Bellarmine Museum of Art

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Installation view. Fairfield University Bellarmine Museum of Art.

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