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Why the Wine-Dark Walls?

Museum visitors may be wondering what’s coming next in the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art. Here’s a peek behind the screens where Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections was recently deinstalled.

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Our next exhibition, Dionysos Unmasked: Ancient Sculpture and Early Prints, opens on July 11 and these wine-dark walls will host not only the ancient Greco-Roman sculpture that usually frequents this space, but also artworks from the Department of Prints and Drawings based on ancient sculptural sources, some with a gap of 1,500 years between them!

For this innovative, interdepartmental collaboration, we chose the wall color, evocatively titled “cranberry cocktail,” to celebrate the hero of our exhibition, Dionysos, god of wine and theater. And here Dionysos is, in an amazing Hellenistic or Roman bronze sculpture from 100 BC to 100 AD. This fantastic long-term loan appears front and center at the crossroads between the Michigan Avenue building, the Rice Building, and the Modern Wing.

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The construction you see behind Dionysos is the building of a large temporary wall that will control the natural light so we can include 15th and 16th-century prints in all galleries of the Dionysos Unmasked exhibition. While the space looks much different than it did with windows backing the sculpture, we hope this temporary change will make our visitors curious about other ways of looking at our encyclopedic collection across departmental boundaries.

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With the epically-proportioned and classically-inspired Charles Ray: Sculpture, 1997–2014 exhibition down the hall in the Modern Wing until October 4, we’ll have plenty to compare.