Egypt Visions Review – How can this show be devoid of ancient wonders? | art

FifthEgypt is considered one of the most popular films that have collapsed. He argues that modern racism toward Egypt began with the Battle of Actium in 31 BC when Octavian defeated Mark Antony and his lover Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt, and annexed it. The Romans plundered Egyptian art, “demonized” its queen, and “layed the foundation for Western perceptions…that still exist today.”

But the claim that ancient Rome still influences perceptions of Egypt is just plain bad history. It ignores the complexities, changes, and contradictions of such a huge time. In any case, why not start with ancient Greece, which borrowed the art of Egypt in the statues of Koroi, while Herodotus saw it as a mysterious and strange other? By bringing together 2,000 years in one unbroken wall of Western prejudice, this show kills art he clearly dislikes. Certainly it is clear that when, for example, Andy Warhol portrays Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and Kenneth Williams steals her in Download on Cleo They were saying something about the sixties and not the first century BC? Not that they’re on this show, which instead combines some Victorian artwork with very contemporary work to prove his weak point about Cleopatra.

Entertainment in Ancient Egypt by Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1864.
Entertainment in Ancient Egypt by Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1864. Photo: Walter White/Harris Museum and Art Gallery

There are some gems here but they all go against the exhibition thesis. A Roman-era depiction of Emperor Diocletian worshiping a mummified bull dressed as a pharaoh shows that cultures interact. A Roman portrait of a boy placed on his mummy shows a creative blending of Egyptian ritual and Roman artistic realism.

Romantic architect Sir John Soane is an Egyptian geek who eludes simplicity of presentation. In a design from his architectural office, he explained why he preferred “high” art in Egypt over European classicism. Simply by comparing St Paul’s and The Great Pyramid In an architectural sketch, Soane shows how the grandeur of an ancient Egyptian structure dwarfs Wren Cathedral.

Canopic jar by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, 1790.
Canopic jar by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, 1790. Photo: Kevin Percival/Victoria and Albert Museum

However, Swan’s intoxicating studies of Egyptian architecture appear in a dry little niche, exposed in the highly abstract “context” of the growth of European imperialism. Across the corridor is one of the strangest books in the world, the colossal Description of Egypt, commissioned by Napoleon from the team of academics he took with him when he invaded what was then part of the Ottoman Empire in 1798. Napoleon was not yet emperor but he was already thinking of imperialism – and a romantic sense of history . He told his troops: “From the top of those pyramids, 40 centuries think of you.”

The devil is in the details. If this show explores such stories in depth, he will have more to say about the intertwining of archeology and empire than he can manage with his unfinished anger. The cultural theorist Edward Said argued in his book Orientalism Napoleon’s cultural project constructed the “Orient” as something “known” and thus controlled by the European empires. If only this exhibition would follow his careful analysis. There is an ironic expression of Victorian Orientalism here: Edwin Long’s painting The Gods and Their Makers shows women in a harem making little. Shabti characters Found in Egyptian tombs. This is pure Victorian fiction – including a black servant attending the strikingly pale “Egyptian” woman.

Disappearing an Egyptian head in the descending clouds by David Hockney, 1961.
Disappearing an Egyptian head in the descending clouds by David Hockney, 1961. Photo: © York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)

The vulgarity in this painting corresponds to the bandaged horror stories of Bram Stoker and Arthur Conan Doyle, in which archeology inspired more vivid images of Egypt. There is no strangest example than Western Egypt Grauman’s Egyptian Theater In Hollywood, a movie theater built as a re-creation of an Egyptian temple in 1922, the year Tutankhamun’s tomb was found by Howard Carter. Why isn’t Hollywood covered properly? The mummy horror genre was hardly touched upon, with an early version of Arthur Conan Doyle’s fable Lot 249 and a slightly silly video by Sarah Salam entitled You Died Again on Screen. “Two hundred years of theater and film has established mummies as characters of horror and evil in Western popular culture,” the commentary says with disdain.

Ironically, however, archaeologist Howard Carter, often vilified as an Indiana Jones colonist, is revealed here as a sensitive artist. His 1908 watercolor of a crouched hoopoe, apparently protected by a mural of an eagle-goddess, expresses a passion and awe for an ancient Egypt that is only breathtakingly away from worshiping its deities. This show wants us to stop our affair with this lost world, but it can’t.

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