Thursday, August 4, 2011

Capitoline Venus at NGA: The Pretty Face of Cultural Exchange Could Use a Better Perch

The State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has posted a video on its website about the loan of the Capitoline Venus to the National Gallery of Art. See,AAAAr4PECyE~,2SkcYDwPFGO281KN1MzLpKHKfKpAnM_B&bclid=0&bctid=1034206751001 and

The Cultural Heritage Center website suggests that Venus is visiting the NGA due to the renewed MOU with Italy, but the video itself and the literature for the exhibit make no such claim. Moreover, restrictions on the movements of Italian artifacts into the United States seem antithetical to the concept of cultural exchange. I'm all for sending American art to be displayed in Italy in return, but not for restrictions on American citizens importing ancient art, particularly when the Italian Government imposes no similar restrictions on its owns citizens.

Anyway, its wrong for me make the ageless goddess into a political pawn. Instead, let me say that I wish that the NGA, which is usually known for its beautiful displays, had given Venus a better perch upon which we could admire her. Instead of looking down at us from a nice marbled niche (as depicted in the NGA brochure), in reality she sits there in the middle of the common area staring at the dome of the West Building like an out of place tourist. Is that any way to treat such a lady? What a shame.

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