News Release

Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome

Friday, September 27, 2013
Acclaimed exhibition opens at the Cleveland Museum of Art on September 29

For more information, please contact:
Caroline Guscott, 216-707-2261, cguscott [at] clevelandart.org
Saeko Yamamoto, 216-707-6898, syamamoto [at] clevelandart.org

CLEVELAND (September 27, 2013) – The Cleveland Museum of Art presents Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome, showcasing masterpieces of art from ancient Sicily. Featuring 144 objects depicting military and athletic victories, religious and civic rituals and opulent lifestyles that shaped the western Greek world, the exhibition explores Sicilian culture from the fifth to third centuries B.C. The acclaimed exhibition is co-organized with the J. Paul Getty Museum and will be on view September 29, 2013 through January 5, 2014.

“In 2002, the museum opened the exhibition Magna Graecia: Greek Art from South Italy and Sicily,” said Michael Bennett, curator of Greek and Roman art. “This exhibition picks up the story where Magna Graecia left off.”

The exhibition focuses on the Classical and early Hellenistic periods, when Sicilian Greek achievements in art and architecture, poetry and rhetoric, philosophy and history as well as mathematics and applied engineering attained levels of refinement rivaling or even surpassing other areas in the Greek world. The island of Sicily’s distinct regional culture made it a wellspring of ideas that shaped many aspects of classical culture during this time period. Through innovative scholarship, the exhibition re-establishes Sicily’s lofty ancient status.

Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome is the beginning of a cultural exchange between the Cleveland Museum of Art and the government of Sicily. In 2015, a reciprocal exhibition of masterworks from the museum’s collection of Italian paintings will be lent to Sicily.

“Our hope is that this exhibition and the reciprocal exhibition in Sicily of several masterworks from our collection of Italian paintings, including Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of Saint Andrew, will be just the beginning of a period of long term cultural cooperation with Sicily,” said David Franklin, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “The scholarship in this exhibition, developed in collaboration with our partners at the Getty and in Sicily, is truly ground-breaking. Being able to bring Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome to Cleveland, where we have a rich Italian heritage, is very exciting.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a 254-page catalog published by the J. Paul Getty Museum. The catalog features essays exploring the art and culture of Sicilian Greeks.

Exhibition Highlights

Statue of a Youth (The Mozia Charioteer), 470–460 BC. Sikeliote (Sicilian Greek). Marble; 181 x 40 cm. Courtesy of the Servizio Parco archeologico e ambientale presso le isole dello Stagnone e delle aree archeologiche di Marsala e dei Comuni limitrofi–Museo Archeologico Baglio Anselmi. By permission of the Regione Siciliana, Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana. Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana.

The centerpiece of the exhibition, The Mozia Charioteer, is widely considered one of the finest surviving examples of Greek sculpture. The sculpture is believed to represent a charioteer who may have competed at Olympia. Some hypothesize that the victorious charioteer may have originally been part of a monument at Akragas to commemorate the Olympic victory sponsored by the tyrant Theron in the 476 B.C. chariot race.

Phiale Mesomphalos

Phiale Mesomphalos (Offering Dish), 325–275 BC. Sikeliote (Sicilian Greek). Gold; 3.7 x 22.8 cm. Courtesy of the Antiquarium di Himera. By permission of the Regione Siciliana, Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana. Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana.

The Phiale Mesomphalos (Offering Dish) is a rare example of a gold phiale, a libation bowl used to pour wine onto an altar as a sacrifice for the gods. An inner band on the outside of the vessel is incised with a series of ivy spirals and corymb leaves. The remainder of the phiale is embossed with concentric decorative bands. This magnificent object is only one of five comparable in size, shape and style in the world.

Coin with a Head of Silenos

Coin with a Head of Silenos (The Aitna Tetradrachm), 476–466 BC. Sikeliote (Sicilian Greek). Silver; diam. 2.62 cm. Courtesy of and © Royal Library of Belgium, Coin Cabinet, de Hirsch coll., nr. 269.

Considered “the coin of coins,” Coin with a Head of Silenos (The Aitna Tetradrachm) is an unparalleled example of ancient coins. The only surviving coin of its type, the work is beautifully preserved and depicts the head of Silenos on the obverse and on the reverse, Zeus enthroned with an eagle perched beside him, imagery that alludes to the cult of Zeus on Mt. Etna.

Leaf from the Archimedes Palimpsest

Leaf from the Archimedes Palimpsest, AD 950–1000; 1200–1250. Constantinople(?) and Jerusalem. Ink on parchment; 30 x 19.5 cm. Private collection, on deposit at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

The Archimedes Palimpsest is the oldest manuscript by Archimedes of Syracuse yet known. Discovered by Johan Ludvig Heiberg in 1906, Codex C is a unique source for two treatises by Archimedes: the Method (also called The Method of Mechanical Theorems) and Stomachion.

Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome has been co-organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art, in association with the Assessorato dei Beni Culturali e dell’Identità Siciliana. It celebrates 2013 as the Year of Italian Culture in the United States, an initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, realized under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Italy.

The exhibition is sponsored by Glidden and PNC Bank. Support comes from James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell.

# # #

About the Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. The museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, performing arts. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the dynamic University Circle neighborhood.

The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported by a broad range of individuals, foundations and businesses in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from the Ohio Arts Council, which helps fund the museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. For three consecutive years, the museum has been awarded a top four-star rating by Charity Navigator, the nation’s most-utilized independent evaluator of charities and nonprofits. For more information about the museum, its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit www.ClevelandArt.org.