When Alexander the Great seized Egypt on his mission to conquer the Persian Empire in 332 B.C., he was one in a long line of Greeks who were dazzled by Egypt and its ancient culture. The legendary Greek historian Herodotus had remarked in the fifth century B.C., “this country has more marvels and monuments that defy description than any other,” and indeed those “marvels and monuments” had been drawing Greeks to Egypt for centuries—as tourists, traders, diplomats, and soldiers. Despite this cultural contact, the art and architecture of the Egyptian kingdom had retained its distinct style, uninfluenced by its frequent visitors. In fact, Egypt’s unique art forms had persisted for more than 3,000 years!
When Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s generals, came to rule Egypt, he found it wise to adapt to the older culture. He installed himself as “pharaoh,” built a new capital at Alexandria, and united the two major gods of each nation to form a new universal deity, Zeus Amon. The era of Ptolemy’s dynasty is known as the Ptolemaic Period, acknowledging the 300-year Greek rule that began with Alexander the Great and ended with the suicide of Queen Cleopatra in 30 B.C. It was an age of profound curiosity and rich experimentation, as the Greeks, and later the Romans, met an established culture far older than their own and exchanged artistic, social, and religious ideas with the ancient civilization.
This exhibition explores this confluence of cultures through over 75 artworks. Gilded mummy masks, luxury glass, magical amulets, and portraits in stone and precious metals, demonstrate the integration of foreign styles while also paying tribute to the enduring legacy of ancient Egypt’s distinctive visual culture.
Sponsor This exhibition is generously funded by the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc.
5 hours 41 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—Kemang Wa Lehulere: In All My Wildest Dreams
Artist Kemang Wa Lehulere describes his work as a “protest against forgetting,” reenacting what he calls “deleted scenes” from South African history through a masterful conflation of personal and collective storytelling. See his first American museum show, In All My Wildest Dreams—on view through January 16.
10 hours 27 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—A new photography rotation showcases groundbreaking Contemporary works from artists like John Baldessari, Sally Mann, Chuck Close, Barbara Kruger, among others—on view in Gallery 10 through January 2.
Image: Richard Misrach. Untitled #696–05, from series On the Beach, 2005. Gift of the artist.
1 day 6 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Toulouse-Lautrec’s work increased the visibility of lesbians in 19th-century Paris, portraying them in a sympathetic light when prevailing perceptions were anything but favorable.