There are wonderful sights to behold in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s ambitious show titled “Pergamon and the Hellenstic Kingdoms of the Ancient World,” which opens today (April 18, 2016) and continues through July 17, 2016.
A significant part of the display, approximately one third, comes from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, with some 40 museums also contributing. Many works have never been lent before. The impressive show reflects art from the Hellenistic period, encompassing three centuries between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. and the first century B.C. establishment of the Roman Empire.
One especially stunning sculpture is a hermaphrodite, said to be a Roman copy of the original Greek work. One comes upon it dazzled by what appears to be a rear view of a woman sleeping peacefully in the nude except for a garment draped about her legs. One can gaze at the sheer beauty and contour. Go around to the other side of the sculpture, and the genius of the work comes into focus, as one can view the male organs.
Another dramatic sight is the huge statue of Athena that dominates the area in which it is displayed. As one might expect, there are numerous heads of Alexander the Great in various stages of preservation and of varying sizes.
Although one is struck especially by the larger works, there are smaller sculptures that fascinate, as well as the more miniscule evidence of the period encompassed. Encased are coins of the time, jewelry and assorted other objects.
This is a show worth taking time to explore. As one who previously visited the Pergamon, now undergoing renovation, I was especially interested in seeing this Met exhibit, and the B.C. treasures that have made it to New York for the occasion. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street.) Phone: 212-535-7710. Reviewed April 18, 2016.