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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-12-06

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Athens-Sparta exhibition opens in NY

  • [01] Athens-Sparta exhibition opens in NY

    New York (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou) -- Hundreds of visitors flocked to the opening of the "Athens-Sparta: From the 8th to the 5th century BC" on Tuesday night at the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation's Onassion Cultural Centre in Manhattan, which was inaugurated by Greece's culture minister George Voulgarakis, forming long waiting lines outside the entrance, also attracting wide coverage by the US media.

    Voulgarakis congratulated the Centre on its initiatives and, referring to the Athens-Sparta exhibition in particular, noted that "two great city-states of antiquity are being projected in a modern multicultural city, adding that "Greece's best ambassador is its culture".

    Foundation chairman Antonis Papadimitriou outlined the Centre's cultural activities in the US, while brief greetings were also addresed by Minister of State (PASOK) Anna Diamantopoulou, and the Foundation's executive director in the US, Ambassador Loukas Tsilas.

    Officials present at the inauguration included Archbishop Demetrios of America, Greece's and Cyprus' permanent representatives to the UN, Ambassadors Adamantios Vasilakis and Andreas Mavroyannis respectively, and the two consuls general, Ekaterini Boura and Martha Mavrommati.

    The exhibition is organised by the Onassis Foundation in cooperation with Greece's National Arcaheological Museum, and comprises three unities: the parallel cultural, political and economic courses of Athens and Sparta.

    According to Greece's National Archaeological Museum director and curator of the exhibition, Dr. Nikos Kaltsas, "For the first time has such a large number of Laconic and Attic artwork been gathered side by side," while noting that the purpose of the exhibition was not a comparison, but rather to highlight the differentness of the two city-states in mentality, organisation and artistic expression "which, in times of peace, developed that which today is known worldwide and universally acknowledged as classical Hellenic civilisation".

    The rival Hellenic city-states, Sparta and Athens, were distinct from one another not only politically and culturally, but also artistically. While ancient Sparta was famous for militarism and austerity, its artistic developments are typically regarded as less advanced than those of Athens, which has long been revered for producing some of the most exquisite artworks in all of ancient Greece.

    The exhibition, to be inaugurated by Voulgarakis on Tuesday, will trace both Laconic and Attic artistic developments from the 8th to the 5th centuries B.C., with a focus on the historically overlooked achievements made in Spartan art during this period. A total of 289 rare artifacts from the two city-states are brought together in this exhibition, many of which are visiting the U.S. for the first time. Highlights of Athens-Sparta will include a marble head of Leonidas, from the 6th century B.C., and Laconic bronze figurines of hoplites, from the 8th to the 6th centuries B.C., with loans drawn from musuems across Greece.

    Artifacts on display include a marble statue believed to represent the Spartan king Leonidas, weapons found at Thermopylae where he died fighting Persian invaders, and finds from Marathon, where Athens defeated a Persian army in 490 B.C. Athens and Sparta overcame decades of mutual distrust to ally against Persian invasions in the early 5th century B.C., but fought each other in the bitter Peloponnesian War which divided Greece's querulous city states and lasted, with brief intervals, from 431-404 B.C. Sparta won that war but lost the peace, declining in later years into a rural backwater, while Athens remained a center of learning and culture for most of its later history.

    Of the 289 artefacts on display, particular interest is presented by the marble bust of a hoplite believed to be that of Leonidas, dating to the end of the 5th century BC, a marble 5th century BC statuette of an Attic Kore from the Acropolis Museum, bronze hoplite figurines from Sparta dated between the 8th-6th century BC, a 6th century BC clay cylix by the Laconian painter Arkesilas, a mid-4th centry BC marble statuette of the goddess Athena, Attic bas-reliefs and a gravestone stele from the late 5th century BC, and 5th century BC arrowheads and spears from the site of the Battle of Thermopylae.

    The Onassion Cultural Centre is the Foundation's headquarters in the US, and a subsidiary of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation established in 1975 after the death of shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, named after Onassis' son Alexandros who was killed in a private plane crash.


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