See Gods in Color at the Legion of Honor

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Legion of Honor Museum
August 14, 2017
See ancient sculpture as never before at the Legion of Honor.

See Gods in Color at the Legion of Honor

The Gods of Color exhibit has ended. Please visit the Legion of Honor for updated exhibit information.

See ancient sculpture as never before at a new exhibition at the Legion of Honor from Oct. 28, 2017 to Jan. 7, 2018, when Gods of Color: Polychromy in the Ancient World presents reproductions of familiar Greek and Roman artwork in full, vibrant color.

Exhibition Information

Polychromy, the art of painting sculpture in several colors, gradually became ignored in reference to classical sculpture. The Renaissance's school of classicism favored form and composition in study and appreciation of ancient work, rather than color. In truth, such works were often originally in color. Today, traces of that original color can be seen with advanced technology and sometimes the naked eye.

Based on a groundbreaking study on this ancient art with ultraviolet fluorescence photography and ultra-violet-visible absorption spectroscopy, archaeologists and scholars have created full-color reproductions of 40 well-known Greek and Roman artworks. Reproductions in the exhibition will represent key pieces from various eras of history in this part of the ancient world. The exhibition includes statues from the Acropolis in Athens and the Hellenistic Period. Alexander Sarcophagus (ca. 320 BC) is a prime example of colors used in this period, and its reproduction will highlight the pigments found in the original sculpture. Roman work will be showcased by a reproduction of an Imperial Period marble portrait of Emperor Caligula, with a strikingly authentic feel with flesh-colored tones. The exhibition also includes select work from Egypt and the Near East.

Early-19th-century Greek landscape watercolors will complement the sculptures, as they feature classical monuments in color, as they were depicted originally. A presentation of pigments such as ocher, red cinnabar and malachite and their mineral and synthetic sources is also included, as well as background on the investigation of color for this exhibition.

A result of decades of research, Gods of Color will challenge visitors' preconceptions of classical work, and their perception of the history of sculpture.

General Information

The Legion of Honor is located in San Francisco's Lincoln Park and overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. Gods of Color: Polychromy in the Ancient World is on view from Oct. 28, 2017 through Jan. 7, 2018. Tickets for this special exhibit include general admission and discounted dual exhibition rates are available to include KLIMT & RODIN: An Artistic Encounter. For more information, and to purchase tickets online, please visit the Legion of Honor online.

Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for special pricing and tours. For more information, see Group Sales at the Legion of Honor.

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