The Ancient and the Modern: Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity

Published on November 18, 2015 by Phoenix in Art Galleries

Phoenix Ancient ArtQuite often, exhibits at art galleries offer one perspective, and the works of one great artist. While these are beautiful and gratifying, exhibits that challenge the viewers’ perspective and force them to think more deeply are often even more inspiring. This is exactly what the Helly Nahmad Gallery has recently accomplished with its collaboration with Phoenix Ancient Art. The surprising juxtaposition of works from two very different time periods and styles challenge the viewers and allow them to gain a more in-depth understanding of both the Modern Art and antiques on display.

The exhibition, called Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity, juxtaposes the 20th century paintings of Giorgio de Chirico with Greek and Roman antiques. This combination forces the viewer to look at Modern Art through an entirely unique prism, and to analyze antiques through Modern Art.

While de Chirico is best known for his Surrealistic paintings produced from 1909-1919, the paintings on display through this exhibit focus on his Neo-classical paintings done after a stylistic shift that he took in the 1920s.Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings include major themes from this period of deserted valleys, figurative works of philosophers and Greek gods, heroic horses and gladiators on large landscapes and more.

The two galleries have paired these historical paintings with antiques that include Greek and Roman marble statues of gods and muses, bronze armor and Greek vases. Mnemosyne: de Chirico and Antiquity hopes to cultivate a learning environment where antiquities are appreciated in a modern context.

The reference to Mnemosyne in the exhibit title refers to the Greek goddess and the mother of the Muses. According to legends, without her we would have no memory and no history. As explained in the press release for the exhibit, “In light of recent events, this exhibition takes the remembrance of the past to heart, illustrating how one Modern Master’s appreciation of the ancients inspired a remarkable body of work. The exhibition hopes to help cultivate an environment where antiquity is appreciated in a modern context and vigilantly guarded for future generations to study and enjoy.”

During his lifetime, de Chirico founded the Scuola Metafisica art movement and had a strong influence on the Surrealist movement. Now, through this exhibit, his legacy and Phoenix Ancient Art’s antiques show how antiquities influence art. They also show how important our heritage is in light of recently threatened regions and their attack on antiquities and art.

The exhibit opened to the public on November 4th and continues until December 23rd at the Helly Nahmad Gallery at 975 Madison Avenue. With the nature and value of the works, attendance is limited and reservations must be secured.