In an exhibition celebrating its 30-year presence that opens on December 9, the Museum of Cycladic Art gives visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the day-to-day life and concerns of Greece’s early Bronze Age inhabitants, as reflected in the art and artifacts left behind by the Cycladic islanders that lived 5,000 years ago.
One of the exhibit’s main themes is expressing a small community’s emphasis on fertility and family. A mother and child, a woman with her belly rounded by pregnancy, a woman with exaggerated buttocks, fragments of sculptures depicting embraced forms all can be seen.
Without any written documents, the exhibition “Cycladic Society 5,000 Years Ago” attempts to recreate the social structure, activities, environment and, where possible, the convictions and beliefs of Cycladic island communities spanning a period of about 1,000 years, from 3,200-2,000 BC, through the art and other objects they left behind.
Τhe exhibition is organized by the Museum of Cycladic Art in collaboration with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades and it houses 191 ancient artefacts:from its own collections, the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades (98 artefacts come from the Museums of Naxos, Apeiranthos, Syros and Paros) as well as the National Archaeological Museum and the Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum.
The exhibition is organized with the financial contribution of the Associated Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation.
Cycladic figurines, in their present form, with their simple shape and clean outline, became popular through their association with abstract art by 20th-century artists like Modigliani, Brancusi, Matisse, and Picasso. Viewed primarily as works of art, they were often presented in a strictly typological manner, without reference to their creators’ cultural sphere.
According to museum curator Nikos Stampolidis, the exhibition “Cycladic Society 5,000 Years Ago” aims to fill that void and put the art into context, exploring the daily life and undertakings of the Cycladic islanders that made it. Stampolidis said the exhibition works as a “snapshot” of a lost reality, a society of small settlements and intrepid seafarers.
The exhibition is organised in five sections, respectively dealing with the early Cycladic social nuclei, activities, social life, social hierarchy and the beliefs and cults surrounding life and death.
It examines the evidence for activities such as farming and livestock breeding, as reflected in art about animals and hunting scenes, the stone tools and crafts that the islanders had at their disposal, evidence that of activities such basket weaving and fabric-making. Particularly impressive is the section on social life, with marble figurines of musicians, such as the “Harpist” or “Flute player”, or the figures of seated women.
The exhibition, which runs until March 2017, will take place in parallel with the exhibition of 1950s photographs “Robert McCabe. Memories and Monuments of the Aegean.”