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"Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World" - Exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Dec 13, 2015 - March 20, 2016


Tweaked
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Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World is an interesting show at the National Gallery of Art (thru March 20, 2016) featuring 50 bronze sculptures from the Hellenistic Period (approx. 4th century BC to 1st century BC).  These sculptures are extremely rare, many of the bronze works from this period have not survived, most have been melted down, destroyed when a ruler went out of favor, lost at sea during transport, or buried during volcano eruptions.  The Hellenistic artist Lysippos, the official sculptor of Alexander the Great, is said to have produced over 1,500 works, none of which have survived. 

Some of the busts are a little repetitive, but the life sized pieces are worth the visit, now often disfigured and missing limbs, several pulled out of the Mediterranean and cracked and pitted with a lovely patina of decay (see the fabulous Victorious Youth "the Getty Bronze").

   

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Some of the busts are a little repetitive, but the life sized pieces are worth the visit, now often disfigured and missing limbs, several pulled out of the Mediterranean and cracked and pitted with a lovely patina of decay (see the fabulous Victorious Youth "the Getty Bronze").  

"Victorious Youth" has quite a backstory - click on the Wikipedia link to read about its controversy.

Tweaked, how big is this exhibit? I see there are fifty statues, but how many rooms is it, approximately, and what type of supplementary material is there? Knowing virtually nothing about Hellenistic sculpture, my eyes would be glazing over within thirty minutes *unless* there was a book there to read (sometimes NGA puts the exhibition catalogs on the sofa in the center of the room - one communal copy for all to share), or maybe there's a digital walk-thru with headphones that patrons can rent?

Oh, interesting - I answered my own question looking at your link: For the first time, NGA is offering a free audio tour people can access from their cell phones. Are there varying levels of depth you can go into? Some of these digital tours have things like sections 1, 2, 3 ... but also sub-sections 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. that go into more depth about a subject. Even listening to something as basic as this little overview in advance would improve it for me - listening to all of them would improve it dramatically, I suspect.

With Shakespeare plays, for example, I get much more out of them if I read the play beforehand - the plays are complex enough, and nuanced enough so that they're better upon second exposure, and I suspect many patrons would get more out of this exhibit if they read about some of the items before going - hopefully, reading about them might provide some incentive. I have no doubt that organizing and setting up this exhibit, with statues from all over the world, was a logistical nightmare. Major museum exhibits (I guess "expositions" is the better word) are set up a few *years* in advance - the NGA already knows what it's putting on, most likely all the way through 2018 and perhaps beyond.

In your perfect world, how many visits to this would be optimal?

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The exhibit is not large, maybe 6 or 7 rooms.  But some rooms only have 4 or 5 pieces in them.  You can easily see the show in 30 minutes.

There is plenty of wall text.  We did not try the audio tour, since we did a fairly quick walk through.  There is also a short movie (I think 10 minutes long) which runs in one of the side galleries, again we skipped this.  But I would imagine if you want to get into the weeds, you can easily dive in.  

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