Current Exhibition: Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections

heaven-earthWashington, National Gallery, West Building

Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections

October 6 2013- March 2 2014

In 330 Emperor Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Italy some thousand miles to the east, near the site of the ancient Greek city of Byzantium on the Bosphorus Strait linking the Aegean and Black Seas. Renamed Constantinople (now Istanbul), the city became the largest and wealthiest in the Christian world. It remained the dominant power, especially in the eastern Mediterranean, for more than 1,000 years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. In the first-ever exhibition of Byzantine art at the Gallery, some 170 works of art, many never before lent to the United States, will be on view—among them mosaics, icons, manuscripts, jewelry, and ceramics. The works include newly discovered and unpublished objects and reveal the rich and multifaceted culture of Byzantium. Divided into five thematic sections, the exhibition explores the coexistence of paganism and Christianity, spiritual life in Byzantium, secular works of art used in the home, the intellectual life of Byzantine scholars, and the cross-influences that occurred between Byzantine and Western artists before the fall of Byzantium.

Heaven and EarthArt of Byzantium from Greek Collections presents life in Byzantium through approximately 170 works of art dating from the inception of the empire to its close. Drawn from collections throughout Greece, they include sculpture, mosaics, icons, frescoes, manuscripts, metalwork, jewelry, glass, embroideries, coins, and ceramics. The works are arranged in five sections: From the Ancient to the Byzantine WorldSpiritual Life,Pleasures of LifeIntellectual Life, and The Last Phase: Crosscurrents.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Athens, with the collaboration of the Benaki Museum, Athens, and in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Sponsors: The exhibition’s international tour is made possible by major funding from OPAP S.A.
Financial support is also provided by the A.G. Leventis Foundation.

Other Venues: J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, April 9–August 25, 2014

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