This innovative collaboration between the Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art and the Department of Prints and Drawings examines Renaissance and Baroque printmakers’ direct responses to Classical antiquity through the figure of Dionysos, the ancient Greek god of wine and theater. Installed in the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, this exhibition juxtaposes ancient sculpture with prints from the 15th through the 18th century with nearly 100 objects—pieces from the permanent collection, new loans of ancient art, and recently acquired works on paper.
Dionysos—known as Bacchus to the Romans—cavorted with an entourage of satyrs, the god Pan, and frenzied maenads, female followers of the god. All these devotees represented the untamed and hedonistic desires of humanity, which were unleashed by the intoxicating elixir of wine. Because performance was a part of the early Greek festivals of Dionysos, he also became known as the patron god of theater, an aspect of the deity that is less well known today. In ancient art, Dionysos could take many forms, from a graceful youth to a bearded mature man. During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the time of early printmaking, interest in antiquity—especially Dionysos—flourished. Ancient sculptures depicting the god and his raucous retinue inspired artists to find new ways to transform age-old Dionysian subjects into prints and drawings that would appeal to their own contemporary audiences.
Anchoring the exhibition are Greek and Roman sculptures depicting Dionysos and his wild followers along with vessels used in ritual drinking parties and festivals honoring the god of wine and theater. Their printed counterparts are masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance to the French Rococo, including notably Andrea Mantegna’s Bacchanal with a Wine Vat, a 15th-century Italian engraving with striking visual similarity to the bronze Statue of Young Dionysos (a current long-term loan to the museum). Bringing together this rich selection of works, separated by as many as 1,500 years, this exhibition offers new, enticing insights into the art of Classical antiquity and its later revivals.
Sponsors Support for this exhibition is generously provided by Shawn M. Donnelley and Christopher M. Kelly and the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc.
11 hours 27 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—In 1963 Melvin Edwards began Lynch Fragments, a series of welded steel assemblages made in response to the tumultuous social climate of the Civil Rights movement. The title of the series evokes the horrifying images of racist mob violence, yet Edwards’s works distill the subject into a powerful sculptural language, fusing modernist abstraction with a sense of personal and collective history.
Afrophoenix No. 1—one of the earliest objects from the series—exemplifies how the artist physically transformed found objects and brought them together in poetically suggestive, tension-filled compositions. Here the formal arrangement of steel elements evokes an equestrian bridle and bit. Chains, hammers, nails, spikes, and screws magnify the sculpture’s associative power, recalling implements of labor and torture. At the same the title references the mythological phoenix—alluding to death, rebirth, and transformation.
See Afrophoenix No. 1 (1963) by Melvin Edwards in Gallery 289D.
15 hours 53 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Modern Velvet: A Sense of Luxury in the Age of Industry
With their plush, inviting, and varied textures, the velvets featured in this exhibition showcase the diversity of modern velvet as well as the effects of industry on its production. As industrial innovations at the turn of the 19th century allowed for faster production and encouraged the use of less costly materials, designers and manufacturers of velvet sought to maintain its association with wealth, luxury, and splendor.
Learn how this elegant fabric has inspired designers for centuries, with a wide range of examples from the 19th century to present day—closing March 19.
1 day 2 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Just like the museum's collection comes from artists around the world, so does the Museum Shop’s assortment of products. We source exclusive products from artisans that are inspired by the cultures, mediums, and techniques represented in our museum collection. View our assortment of unique items from India.