Ancient World, Behind the Scenes, Getty Villa

Five-Ton Wheel Takes Center Stage for “Prometheus Bound”

It looks like a ferris wheel—but you can’t ride on it, and instead of pleasure, it offers endless torment. The Prometheus Wheel has arrived.

The 23-foot-tall, five-ton steel creation is the centerpiece of this fall’s outdoor theater production of Prometheus Bound, where it represents the mountaintop to which the rebel god Prometheus is chained for all eternity in punishment for his defiance of Zeus. The actor who plays Prometheus, Ron Cephas Jones, will perform while strapped to the rotating center of the wheel, perched on a modified bike seat.

The wheel is the brainchild of the creative team at the CalArts Center for the Art of Performance, the Getty’s partner in this production. “They have the expertise, the ambition, and the artistic sense to pull off something like this,” Laurel Kishi, performing arts manager at the Getty Museum, told me as we watched the wheel crane over the Villa.

Visitors will be able to see the wheel (but not touch, spin, or climb on it—seriously, no climbing!) in the Outdoor Classical Theater every day through the end of September, when the production concludes. “We felt this would be a great piece to have up so that, even when the play isn’t happening, visitors can take a look at it,” Laurel said. If the wheel moves you, tag it with #PrometheusWheel on Instagram and Twitter.

Video by Sarah Waldorf and Steve Saldivar

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      ROSE

      This milky pink boomed into popularity because of a marketing ploy, a mistress, and its ambiguous origins.

      In an effort to compete with the renowned Meissen porcelain factory, the French Sèvres manufactory recruited the glamorous Madame de Pompadour (mistress to King Louis XV). Like a smart sponsorship deal, Sèvres gave her all the porcelain she requested. 

      Introduced in 1757, this rich pink exploded on the scene thanks to favoritism by Madame Pompadour herself. 

      The glaze itself had a weird history. To the Europeans it looked Chinese, and to the Chinese it was European. It was made based on a secret 17th-century glassmaker’s technique, involving mixing glass with flecks of gold.

      For more on colors and their often surprising histories, check out The Brilliant History of Color in Art.

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