On September 9th, 2018, I was able to visit the Michael C. Carlos Museum on the campus of Emory University. The beautiful three-story building housed some amazing collections of artwork, artifacts, sculptures and videos from different places and era’s around the world. On the first floor where the information kiosk was located it was American, Greek and Roman, and Egyptian art. On the second floor, it featured the African collection. Lastly, on the third floor it featured the Egyptian feline (cat) collection and some preserved artwork from other royal animals.
There was way more than ten pieces of art, sculptures, and videos that caught my interest but in the following text you will get an explanation of some I am able to mention.
Athena Nike is a goddess of wisdom and warfare, she represented victory. According to the text, “Nike means victory (think about the brand of athletic shoes with the same name that channels that theme)” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 92).
The head of Nike displayed at the museum was a duplicate of the Nike carrying in the right hand of the gold and ivory cult statue of Athena. This depiction of Nike reminds me of the sculpture on 3.21 of Alexander the Great. The head of Nike is oval shaped with the same type of thick curly hair.
Athena Nike was the best of her time because she acknowledged the conquering heroes during battles. Most of her sculptures symbolizes her winged victories. All of her sculptures are considered true pieces of art work.
Referenced in the text, “Nike alights on the prow of a warship, bracing herself against the wind and spray of the sea, her wings still fluttering and her water- soaked garments billowing and clinging sensuously to her torso” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 117).
Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. I decided to speak on Aphrodite after Nike because in the text it mentions their statues are classified as the best of the Hellenistic period. According to the text, “Two of the most well-known and influential works of Hellenistic art are, at once, on different ends of the stylistic spectrum. The first is an approximate contemporary of the Nike of Samothrace- a statue of Aphrodite that is better known as the famed Venus de Milo (Fig. 3.26)” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 118). Moreover, the statue of Aphrodite displayed in the museum provides the same characteristics of that same sexual desire, showing her breast and the clothing hanging off her hips as seen in figure 3.26.
Furthermore, Aphrodite was the “Daughter of Zeus and the nymph Dione; wife of Hephaestus; mother of Eros by her lover Ares and Trojan hero Aeneas by the mortal Anchises” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 53). Also, making her the sister of Athena. The Greeks used Aphrodite and the other goddesses and gods art as representation of what they stood for. I definitely was able to connect the relevance of Aphrodite being about love because her statue provided intimacy, vulnerability and female beauty.
The Pithos (Amphora) that were displayed in the museum provided me with the idea of useful pottery in the time of 650-600 BC. It was a ceramic vase with beautiful art work all over it. I could tell it was classified as a true piece of art because it appeared as something they used to store things or grow something out of it. Which I learned it was used as a jar to store liquids. Such as, wine, water and oils. Referenced in the text, “The Greeks drank their wine diluted with water and often added honey and spices. They exported it in jars made waterproof by an inner layer of pine resin- the origin of the retsina (resonated wine) still drunk in Greece today” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 50).
The decorated art work on the Amphora was people showing some sort of movement. It looked like the people on the vase were dancing, looking at each other and reaching for something. I learned the repeated figures are called friezes as the wording described the art work on the Amphora. The friezes on the Amphora I focused on suggested the figures were possibly performing a ritual since they were dancing figures. These Amphora was a main source for the people because they trusted storing their liquids and decorated it with important detail.
It was stated Sarcophagus meant flesh eater because the lime in the corpse dissolved throughout time in the coffin. According to the text, Sarcophagus is “A coffin; usually cut or carved from stone, although Etruscan sarcophagi were made of terra-cotta (plural sarcophagi)” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 162). That definition provided the exact characteristics of the coffin in the museum. The coffin is authentic because it displayed carved faces on the lid in some triangular and round shapes. You could tell they put a lot of work in the decorative carvings all around it because the carvings were deep. The coffin looked to be very heavy because of the thick stone. Also, it seemed pretty long because it took up one corner of the wall to the center point of the same wall where it was located in the museum.
The Sarcophagi was classified as a time piece of art for its time due to the emphasis they put on the coffin and how much they used them. Referenced in the text, “Networks of rooms resemble actual houses, complete with seating on which terra-cotta sculptures of the deceased may have perched. It is as if someone lived there. Completing this picture is a sarcophagus with a reclining couple found in a cemetery in Cerveteri, Italy (Fig. 4.4)” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 126).
The Greco Roman had an area in the museum of art showing how Egypt became a Roman province after Cleopatra died which I believe it mentioned due to suicide. The area gave examples of Isis; hieroglyphics. According to the text, “Worship of Isis became an important and enduring Egyptian cult; a temple to her was even found among the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. Our knowledge of the meaning of these and other texts was made possible by
unlocking the key to their writing system of hieroglyphics” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 24/25). The writings resembled Fig 1.27 in a way; it showed palettes with different symbols reflecting their writing.
However, I also learned the Roman Empire used this writing system for some time but it eventually became scarce once Christianity took over. Also, I learned the Greco-Roman is defined as when the traditions merged from Egypt to the Hellenistic. It was explained that the deities of Egyptians merged with the Greek. According to the text deities were classified as a true piece of art since “ The Greeks turned to their deities for explanations of natural phenomena and the psychological characteristics they recognized in themselves” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 53).
When I first walked in to the art floor I noticed the Panel of Opus sectile but I thought it was a decorative bench until I looked down to see that it was tagged as a piece of art. The art piece was in a rectangular shape and had a marble top. On the marble top, it consisted of shapes with earth tone colors. On the hand-held label, it explained how the Opus sectile were a sort of decorative patterns. As a reflection of what I seen in the text it references “As with the Dome of the Rock, the interior of the Great Mosque was decorated lavishly, with marble columns with glass mosaics depicting, perhaps, the imagined splendor of Paradise-grand palaces, luxurious vegetation, and abundant, flowing water” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 260).
The Opus sectile are important pieces of art because this technique allowed decorative tessellations and styles reflected on their walls and flooring. The Opus sectile at the museum resembles Fig. 8.23. Such as, “a flat surface is covered with pieces of precisely cut glass or ceramic tiles” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 273). This technique is so authentic that I notice the geometric marble patterns from different time periods even leading up today.
It was described as some type of vessel used during a funeral to lay next to the deceased. Such as, the ashes. According to the text, “Because white-ground painting was less durable, it was reserved for pottery that was not utilitarian. Among the most touching works from the period are oil flasks-lekythoi-used for funerary offerings and painted with mourning or graveside scenes” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 95). The lekythoi used in the museum was stated it was for a grave of a warrior. Basically, the warrior is saying goodbye to his father. Which on the vessel the father is sitting down shaking his son hand and someone is standing behind the seated father. From my recollection, it was a child or slave.
Funerary Lekythos were significant because it provided relief to be able to express themselves to their loved ones they lost. Referenced in the text, “A lekythos (Fig. 3.13) by the so-called.
Reed Painter illustrates a woman laying her hand upon the tomb of her husband, the fallen warrior who sits before it. The figures are depicted with a calm dignity but also considerable feeling.” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 97). I actually found myself connecting more with this art piece because it can be hard to find relief in someone’s death while your mourning. You’re paying respect to your lost loved one and depicting your emotion in on the vessel.
When reading the information of Terpsichore, it mentioned she was the muse of dance; she who rejoices in dance. Museum was derived from muse as referenced in the text, “The greatest of all centers of Greek learning was in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, where King Ptolemy,
Alexander’s former personal staff officer and bodyguard, planned a large institute for scholarship known as the Temple of the Muses, or the Museum” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus
115). However, in this context of Muse Terpsichore it states Zeus had nine daughters with Mnemosyne which Terpsichore was one of the muses. The goddess of an art; dance and chorus.
Therefore, signifying her importance of her time since she’s a goddess. Moreover, the statue resembled Hermes (Mercury) based on my observations of the other statues in the gallery. I will discuss Mercury as well, but they resembled each other because I noticed the unfinished arm on the statue. When reading it explained the different depictions due to the different levels of carvings. Such as, carving the head and then the body. I stilled found the statue to be beautiful even though it seemed rather interesting.
There was a statue of a lady with a description titled “ Portrait of A Woman”. This portrait was a representation of republican style in Greece. It mentioned the portrait styles were different through the Greek transitions. Such as, Classical Greece had a more sophisticated approach when carving; a more natural appeal. The Portrait of a Woman in republican style was mainly influenced by the Egyptians until the Archaic period resulting in more natural art. Referenced in the text” Archaic statues of the female figure were also found on the Acropolis. The feminine Korai (singular kore) were also carved as votive statues, although unlike the kouroi, they were clothed” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 67).
Moreover, the portrait of the woman was important to the different transitions because they were able to see how the art went from abstract to natural and also showcase the different roles the woman pursued. When reading the description, it mentioned some roles were priest and others were laborers. So, seeing the different portrait of woman you could identify their roles from how they styled their hair and the head garment used with the hair style.
The statue of Hermes description mentioned he was the God of wayfarers and roads. According to the text, “ Hermes , the messenger god, watches over the group in his hand is the attribute that helps identify him- a magical rod called caduceus” (Cunningham, Reich, and Fichner-Rathus 70). I learned Hermes was an important god for his time because he escorted the souls to the Underworld and god of the merchants. I remember reading about Hermes when Zeus sent for him to deliver a message to Odysseus. Hermes had to force Odysseus to go home because he was living wrong by sleeping with his mistress.
Moreover, the statue of Hermes was fairly tall with his detailed clothing of some sort of ruffles reaching down to his knees. You could tell the artist did a lot of carving when it came to the clothing because it was very long with deep indentations of the cloth. However, the statue was missing the head and appeared as if it was missing the arm, which it was explained in the description that his hands were stuck on clothing. So possibly the one arm was bent behind his back but the way the statue was positioned I couldn’t look behind it.
I am now more appreciative of art, cultures, beliefs and eras because of this Humanities course and my visit to Michael C. Carlos Museum. It was very fulfilling to see the things discussed in the text come to life at the museum. Certain emphasis placed in the text could only be really understood after viewing them myself. My eyes have been adjusted to the appreciation of others aesthetics and I am now interested in traveling abroad to see more.
Thank you, Dr. Rose