The unveiling of the Jaharis Galleries also celebrates the opening of a special exhibition of more than 50 incomparable works of late Roman and early Byzantine art lent by the British Museum. Comprised of luxurious yet portable items such as silver vessels, carved ivories, and gem-encrusted jewelry, these artworks reflect the splendor of wealthy households and important ecclesiastical sites between A.D. 350 and 650.
These centuries saw great shifts in the Roman Empire: Constantinople replaced Rome as the imperial capital, Christianity became the official imperial religion, and Greek eclipsed Latin as the official administrative language. Beautifully illustrating these transitions, the objects in the exhibition were employed in a variety of civic, domestic, and sacred contexts. For example, a gilded silver chest for bathing accessories and perfumed oils that belonged to a Roman noblewoman named Projecta stands as an eloquent witness to the intersection of classical iconography and Christian belief; above the inscription indicating that its owner was indeed a Christian appears a seductive image of the goddess Venus. The gradual stylistic shift from a classical naturalism towards a Byzantine aesthetic can be seen in the Reliquary of St. Menas. Carved in ivory during the sixth century and markedly different in style from the earlier objects in the exhibition, the imagery—charged with spiritual import—is more abstract, static, and hieratic. For its part, The Lycurgus Cup vividly exemplifies the refinement and spectacle of lavish tableware proudly used throughout the late Roman Empire. In a display of technical virtuosity, this cup appears green in reflected light but turns a brilliant red when light is transmitted through it, thanks to the addition of gold and silver particles to the molten glass.
Most of the treasures in this exhibition have never before traveled to the United States. The Art Institute is proud to be the sole venue for this special presentation.
Major funding is provided by Shawn M. Donnelley and Christopher M. Kelly. Additional support is provided by John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe. Generous annual support is also provided by the Exhibitions Trust: Goldman Sachs, Kenneth and Anne Griffin, Thomas and Margot Pritzker, the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Foundation, the Trott Family Foundation, and the Woman’s Board of the Art Institute of Chicago.
10 hours 7 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago “It's instinctive in a certain kind of painting... It's like a nervous system… The feeling is going on with the task. The line is the feeling, from a soft thing, a dreamy thing, to something hard, something arid, something lonely, something ending, something beginning.”
Happy birthday, Cy Twombly!
Image: Cy Twombly. The First Part of the Return from Parnassus, 1961. Through prior gift of Mary and Leigh Block; Marian and Samuel Klasstorner and Major Acquistions Endowment Income funds; Wirt D. Walker Trust; Estate of Walter Aitken; Director's Fund; Helen A. Regenstein Endowment; Laura T. Magnuson Acquisition Fund.
1 day 3 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago MAY 15—Join us for After Dark with special tours of Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690–1840, live performances, DJ sets, pints of Guinness at the cash bar, and more!