The Pergamon

 

While in Berlin last week we visited the Pergamon museum with the primary intention of viewing the Islamic art section.   We ended up, however, most astounded by the classical temple friezes and the altar of Zeus after which the museum is named.  The temple was located on an acropolis in the ancient Greek city (Pergamon) which is now located in modern-day Turkey close to the Aegean coast.   It was constructed during the first half of the 2nd century BC and is still in remarkable condition considering its age.  Standing at the base of this vast monument one can really sense the dual purpose of the altar which was both to worship the gods who protect the city and to display the immense power of the ruler and his polis.  The frieze sculptures have been carved in a high relief lending greater impact to the beautiful fluid folds of the tunics, the skillfully defined muscles of the figures and horses, and the liveliness and strength of the composition.  The sense of movement and drama the artists have succeeded in capturing in these stone figures is simply awe-inspiring, and made me wonder for one melancholy moment where all the talent has gone. 

Aside from these classical marvels, being forever drawn to rich colours I enjoyed the exquisite and varied selection of carpets from different regions of the Islamic world.

16th century “Holbein” rug from Western Anatolia.

Anatolian rug

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~ by bethiarose on April 21, 2010.

4 Responses to “The Pergamon”

  1. Great to discover you blog Laxmi, and thanks for these musings and reflections. It was nice to read your reactions to sculpture, carpets and rugs, and of course, the birth of modernism in painting with the in the richly hued, ‘Harmony in Red’ of Matisse (a work, which, as you note, was calculated to appeal to the taste of Russian art collector Sergei Shchukin, and has long been a part of The Hermitage collection). It’s fascinating looking at that painting to realize that in so many of the nations that once made up the former soviet union that use of rugs to cover floors and tables still persists. That feeling for the dynamic decorative schemes of the east is still very strongly present. Natasha’s Dance: A cultural History of Russia (2002) by Orlando Figes explores this eastern influence on the Russian soul and aesthetic in some detail. The Guardian concluded it’s review of the book with the following summing up: “Natasha’s Dance is a wonderfully rich read, packed with illumination and insight into an artistically rich civilisation at once brilliant and savage, a raw, tangled mix of the rational and mystical, ‘Eastern’ and European” rather simplifying the complexity of Figes arguments and scholarship, but you get the drift. If you haven’t read it I’m sure you’d find interesting. B.T.W. Eeva uploaded a link to your blog via facebook which is how I found out about it! Good luck with it, I’ll look forward to more …

  2. Thanks Laxshmi for the inspiring words on the Pergamon. I’ve been there recently too, such a wonderful place, led us through a trip in time and place. I could feel like in Pergamon and than in Babylon, impressed by the mighty appearance of empires that emerged and not long later disappeared. From the Greek stones heavy and soft feeling, often plain in colour, to the bright and poetic Eastern tapestry went my body and soul on a journey, soon ending in Modern Berlin. Seeing it here makes me feel like I’m back there…

  3. Thank you very much for your comments! I look forward to reading this book!

  4. Looks like Altare della Patria in Piazza Venezia in Rome,did u go there?

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