Bring a Room to Life With Wall Sculpture
I visited a friend’s house not too long ago and, though I don’t typically notice, I had been fascinated by his decor. The style was something he described as steam punk, a kind of futuristic Victorian, which seemed as if it buddha canvas wall paintings came right from Jules Verne, a sort of Captain Nemo meets Robur the Conqueror, all shimmering brass, leather, futuristic technologies, and clockwork. My friend’s version was a lot more ‘Indiana Jones’, with his steamer trunk table, collection of intriguing artifacts, statues and intriguing ancient wall reliefs. It went together with his home, originally constructed in the 1920’s and made a comfortable, intriguing inside well suitable for his large collection of books.
My house is somewhat modern-day, so when I considered options for furnishing my living room (something I had been advised was ‘up to me’) I declined the steam punk idea. While I’m no interior designer I can see that a certain harmony between interior and exterior is beneficial. While contemporary houses tend to be spacious they can be really bland, then i noticed this gave me a lot more range to be able to stamp my own character on the room, and that thought gave me the concept to make use of wall art and wall sculptures to give my room some personality, but what to choose?
Old Greek buildings weren’t what we understand today. Most people understand that they were beautiful buildings that stood, in many cases for centuries, before suffering deterioration we know now, but do you know that they were once bright colored? You probably would not think so to examine the remains in a museum. I used to eat my lunch while appreciating the huge Assyrians gateways within the British Museum in London, just along from room 18, the home of the ‘Elgin marbles’. These famous sculptures were stripped away from the Parthenon in the early years of the 19th century by the Earl of Elgin, and the Greek government continues trying to get them returned to Greece. The sculptures are stark, white and intensely stunning, precisely what we think of whenever we think ‘classical art’ but what would the ancients have thought of them? Euripides give us a hint in his play ‘Helen of Troy’ when Helen says ‘If only I could shed my beauty and assume an uglier aspect, the way you wipe paint off a statue’. Those spectacular marble statues in their sparkling white were once vivid and multi-colored. So different from what we see today and connect with the ancient world, it’s truly difficult to picture.
We all look at the ancient gods as abstract, consequently ancient wall sculptures such as Poseidon in his chariot are ‘classical’ and perfectly at home in the modern room. It was only at the Renaissance that, discovering classical sculpture stripped of their paint by time, the sculptors believed they had originally been white marble, and attempted to emulate them. In antiquity the Greeks believed in living breathing Gods;their particular statues had been colored brightly in order to reflect that. Although we appreciate the amazing workmanship of the Parthenon sculptures the ancients adored their realistic quality so much so it had been said that at certain times of the day it was as if the gods in their friezes actually moved. The statues and painting techniques were made to bond and enhance the three dimensional quality of the stone, bringing the subject to life. Archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann is working hard to analyze ancient sculpture and build authentic reproductions. These, detailed with intricate paint techniques and pigments are as near as it can be to those used in ancient times and the final results are intriguing; the ancient world won’t ever appear the same again.