The worldwide fascination with the Frankfurt research project on polychromy in the Ancient World and the exhibition “Gods in Color” resulting from it is anything but dwindling. The show has been touring internationally for nearly fifteen years now, impressively testifying to the fact that an illustrative presentation of polychromy research enthrals people in countries all over the world. The interim balance of thirty international venues and far more than two million visitors to date speaks for itself. From 28 October 2017 to 7 January 2018, the exhibition will be on display in the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, one of the two new spheres of activity of the former director of the Liebieghaus Max Hollein.
While the exhibition will guest on the US west coast from autumn on, a research project is already in progress on the east coast today; carried out in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the project focuses on the original polychromy of the so-called “New York Kouros”. A nude male tomb figure of Greek Antiquity, the kouros is one of the earliest forms of a likeness of man in the form of a marble statue. The work in New York, which still shows numerous traces of colour, dates from about 580 BC. The polychromy project of the Liebieghaus headed by Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann is undertaking a scientific analysis of the object in cooperation with scholars on site; the kouros will be subjected to an X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy in October. The research process is aimed at reconstructing the kouros’s original colourfulness.

Thanks to the multimedia “Gods in Color” digitorial, the exhibition with its colourful reconstructions is already accessible to everybody on the Internet before its presentation in San Francisco as of now. Developed by the Liebieghaus, this digital offer allows users to immerse themselves in the impressive world of “Gods in Color” completely free of charge and independent of the physical exhibition. Informative texts, exciting audio elements, and numerous pictures with graphic effects offer multifaceted insights into the fields of polychromy research and colour reconstruction. The theme digitorial is available in both German and English under buntegoetter.liebieghaus.de.

“‘Gods in Color’ has been writing an unrivalled success story for nearly fifteen years. The sight of the coloured reconstructions of ancient statues and the vitality they radiate astound and fascinate people all over the world – making us aware to what degree we have internalized culturally handed-down images of ancient sculpture as not coloured. Polychromy research essentially informs the scholarly profile of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung beyond ‘Gods in Color’ and has been pursued here in Frankfurt with great passion and long-standing expertise,” remarks Dr. Philipp Demandt, director of the Liebieghaus.

“‘Gods in Color’ should not be misunderstood as a completed exhibition project. Quite the reverse: The whole project is as alive as the impression the various reconstructions convey. In the meantime at home in the Liebieghaus, the project keeps continuously growing as new reconstructions are added to it and findings are scientifically brought up to date. This also becomes evident in the exemplary collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco as well as the establishment of a worldwide network of scholars who have gathered around the project in the course of time. The approach and presentation in the new ‘Gods in Color’ digitorial offer an extremely effective introduction to the subject,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Vinzenz Brinkmann, head of the Collections of Antiquities and Asia of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung.

The theme digitorial “Gods in Color” has been made possible by the FAZIT Foundation.

On the occasion of the launch of the digitorial “Gods in Color”, Vinzenz Brinkmann will present a lecture on the exhibition project, the theme digitorial, and his most recent research plans and findings in the field of polychromy in the lecture hall of the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung on Thursday, 17 August 2017, at 6:30 p.m. Access is included in the admission ticket. Please register by calling +49(0)69-605098-200 or by e-mail to info@staedelmuseum.de.

The exhibition “Gods in Color”
Antique marble sculpture was not white, but coloured. This is amply and overwhelmingly attested to by ancient literary sources. Whereas the incontestable fact that ancient sculpture was completely coloured was suppressed during the Italian Renaissance, it was recalled in the nineteenth century; in the twentieth century, it once again paled into insignificance, giving way to an aestheticism directed at clarity. Numerous traces of the original polychromy in antique sculpture have survived.
For more than thirty years, an international team of scholars led by Vinzenz Brinkmann has been conducting research that has brought to light comprehensive new findings on the polychromy of ancient sculptures and keeps continuously working on the project. The exhibition “Gods in Color” resulting from it assembles original ancient sculptures and spectacular reconstructions that bring the “coloured Ancient World” to life again. The show premiered in the Glyptothek in Munich in 2003 before it was shown in the Vatican Museums and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, as well as the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (2006), in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Havard University in Cambridge, Mass. (2007/08), in the Getty Villa in Los Angeles (2008), in the British Museum in London (2015), and other venues. It was presented in the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung in 2008/09 and has become a part of the institution’s collection at the end of 2016.


Gods in Color

Support:The theme digitorial has been made possible by the FAZIT Foundation. It can be retrieved free of charge under buntegoetter.liebieghaus.de from 3 July.

Lecture by Vinzenz Brinkmann

Date: Thursday, 17 August 2017, 6:30 p.m. (admission 6:00 p.m.)
Venue: lecture hall, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Schaumainkai 71, 60596 Frankfurt am Main
Admission and registration: Access is included in the admission ticket. Please register by calling +49(0)69-605098-200 or by e-mail to info@staedelmuseum.de.
Information: www.liebieghaus.de, e-mail: info@liebieghaus.de, phone: +49(0)69 605098-200, fax: +49(0)69 605098-112