Antiquities, Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Museum

Stilt-Walking Actors Extend Their Stay at the Getty Villa

Storage Jar with a Chorus of Stilt Walkers, black-figured amphora attributed to the Swing Painter, Greek (Attic), active about 550-525 B.C. Terracotta, 16 1/8 x 11 7/16 in.  (41 x 29 cm). James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury

Storage Jar with a Chorus of Stilt Walkers, black-figured amphora attributed to the Swing Painter, Greek (Attic), active about 550-525 B.C. Terracotta, 16 1/8 x 11 7/16 in. (41 x 29 cm). James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury

The Art of Ancient Greek Theater closed on January 3, but one loan object from the exhibition won’t be making its way back home for a while.

An Attic black-figured amphora, or storage vessel, from the James Logie Memorial Collection at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, will remain at the Villa. The earthquake of September 4, 2010, caused severe damage to the institution, and the Logie Collection has been taken off display until items damaged during the earthquake can be conserved and a new gallery location identified.

Tragically, a second earthquake has now struck Christchurch, this time causing loss of life and a national emergency. For now, the university’s entire campus is closed.

It’s an ironic twist of fate that the vase was preserved because it was on loan to a museum in California, another earthquake-prone part of the world.

The vase features a unique scene of a comic chorus from an early form of Greek theatrical performance: five men on stilts wearing long, pointed caps, false-looking beards, and corselets made of animal skin, feathers, metal, or scales. Their muscular legs balance precariously on the stilts’ small footholds, indicated by single strokes of pigment.

While the University of Canterbury makes repairs to the rest of its collection and devises plans for its reinstallation, the vase will be on view in Gallery 114, which tells the story of Dionysos and the theater—both tragedy and comedy.

The Logie Collection is one of the finest collections of Greek and Roman antiquities on public display in the southern hemisphere. Learn more about the collection and see some recent acquisitions here, and get news on how the university is faring here.

Storage Jar with a Chorus of Stilt Walkers

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.

      08/03/15

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