Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Massive Architecture and Sculpture in Rome, Ancient and Contemporary

 First of all, Context.
 I mean, it's the Colosseum. Yes, it's just sitting there, down the end of a street I access a few blocks from my hotel, and it's been there, well, almost forever, but no matter how much you might try to be blasé about it. . . It's the Colosseum! A very definition of monumental, iconic, grand. . .

So, then, 

 to place a sculpture in front of it
 would seem a placement guaranteed to diminish any work. . . Impossible to compete for attention with this, no?
 And yet. . .

What is this immense, fractured sculpture of a beast, I wondered, with those around me. . .
This site will tell us more. . .
Mexican artist Gustavo Aceves has created a truly massive work, growing as it is exhibited around the world. It began in 2014 at Pietrosanta in Tuscany, moved from there to Berlin in 2015, has just begun in Rome and will be in that city until January 8, 2017. The sculptures I spotted as I walked up the hill the other day overlooking the Mercato di Traiano were, I can now see, part of this exhibition. There are currently over 40 individual, unique large-scale sculptures, mostly horses, and the exhibition will grow to 100 by the time it culminates, after stops in Corinth, Paris, Istanbul, and Venice, in Mexico City 2017.
I wish I'd read and known about this powerful exploration of Humanity's Migration, with particular attention to the current international crises of displacements, before I visited Rome, but I'm so grateful that serendipity at least pulled me across the path of each of the three installations (I didn't manage good photos of the third which stands in front of the Arch of Constantine, but you can find it if you visit the official Lapidarium website.
There are also any number of insightful reviews about the massive undertaking. This one in The Guardian is not too long but gives a good sense of Aceves' goals. If you have the good fortune to be in Rome between now and January, I would urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to spend time with some magnificent sculptures -- or, if you're visiting any of the other cities with tour dates to come, you might want to research the possibilities for viewing there.

Magnificent and challenging and thought-provoking. Wish I'd had more time with these. . . Grateful I had what I had. . . 


  1. It's funny , we're so used to seeing the horse almost as an accessory in equestrian statues , with some chap in a helmet stealing all the attention .
    This redresses the balance beautifully .

    1. It's true, Smitonius&Sonata -- and horses can be powerful icons in all kinds of directions. So interesting that Aceves chose them to represent and meditate on human migration.

  2. Wow! What a gem! I'm ashamed to admitt that I did't hear neither of Gustavo Aceves nor his Lapidarium. One stays wordless! I would like to see this exibitions
    Well,they are huge :-),but you always find something special and fresh,either monumental or small-you could illuminate even the smallest of things and give them new meaning
    P. S. You know that I have to add - we have a beautiful Roman amphitheatre located in Pula,one of the six largest remaining roman arenas in the world,the only one with four side towers.

    1. I've never heard of him either -- just as I had never heard of Jaume Plensa until I was fortunate enough to be in Bordeaux at the same time as a massive exhibition of his work.
      I will see that Roman amphitheater in Pula one day, I hope... and thank you for your kind words...


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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