Copying (in) the past: Imitation & inspiration stories

25 Nov 2018 - 30 Nov 2019

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, participating in the celebration of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, organizes a temporary exhibition entitled: "COPYING (IN) THE PAST: IMITATION AND INSPIRATION STORIES"

The exhibition attempts to approach the multi-faceted phenomenon of copying in the past and the present and its innumerable expressions. Based on an innovative theme, through a presentation that combined speech, sound and image, it explores the phenomenon of copying within the framework of cultural creation. Meanwhile, it traces the crucial role ancient Greek art played in the formation of a collective European artistic vocabulary.

Hence, we tell stories of imitation and inspiration through the 110 artefacts, which represent 5000 years of art in the Greek world, starting from the Proto-Cycladic era and reaching up to 20th century art. The exhibits represent the timeless idea of copying either creative and symbolic inspiration or as faithful imitation.

In a fertile dialogue with the visitors, the exhibition attempts to answers questions like:

  • What did the ancients choose to copy and why?
  • What did the imitation of luxury and prestige items mean in antiquity?
  • How did the repeated images of Greco-Roman art express the political and ideological messages of the time?
  • Why did the ancient Greek artistic creation become an endless tank of inspiration for western art?
  • How are counterfeit items revealed as such in the illicit antiquities trade?
  • What ideas about Greek antiquity are conveyed in souvenirs?

The institutions that collaborated with us by lending us artefacts for the exhibition are the following:

National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum, Benaki Museum / Gkikas Gallery, Telloglion institute of Art A.U.Th., Municipal Gallery of Thessaloniki, Cast Museum A.U.Th. French School at Athens, Alpha Bank Coin Collection.

The exhibition has a musical score from the soundscapes of Dimitris Bakas, entiltled: “copying the archetype”. It is a musical environment that frames the exhibition, based on the ontological dimension of copying.

Two videos inspired by the exhibition’s theme accompany the exhibits, entitled, “ANTIQUITY INSPIRES” and “ALEXANDER THE GREAT: THE ETERNAL PROTOTYPE”, complement the exhibition and show how Greek antiquity became the prototype and inspiration for European, and subsequently world art.

Special educational programmes for children are offered throughout the duration of the exhibition and a specially-designed engraving workshop for adults. The programme is conducted by the Museum in cooperation with the artist-engraver, Kyriaki Fotiadou. Through the exhibition artefacts, the participants get acquainted with the notion of multiple copying in ancient Greek art and experience all stages of engraving, from the initial stage and the inking, to the final printing.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in Greek and in English.