Collecting and Displaying Classical Art: Some Historical, Practical, and Ethical Considerations - Lecture by Kenneth Lapatin

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 5:30pm

The desire to possess and display ancient artworks seems to be timeless. 

Whether in triumphal processions or contemporary international loan shows, statues fashioned from marble and bronze, paintings, vases, engraved gems, and other artifacts have evoked strong responses from connoisseurs, scholars, and the general public alike. This talk surveys diverse approaches to collecting Greek and Roman art, from antiquity itself to the modern day, considering how and why ancient material culture has been valued, acquired, exhibited, and preserved. Tastes, trends, and practices have evolved over time, as have views of what is laudable, acceptable, and deplorable. What are the positive and negative implications of esteem for ancient art? What are the responsibilities of contemporary museums and collectors?  How might we best preserve artifacts and contextual information that elucidates their various meanings? Through a series of case studies, this lecture explores such questions as well as issues of looting, appropriation, conservation, and display, seeking to define "best practices" in the complex cultural landscape of today's world.

Kenneth Lapatin is Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. A graduate of Berkeley and Oxford, he has excavated in Greece, Italy, Israel, and England, both above ground and under water. 
He has curated exhibitions on topics ranging from Athenian vases, polychrome sculpture, Roman silver, and ancient gems to the reception of antiquity in the Middle Ages and the modern myth of Pompeii, and has published widely on those and other topics. He is the author and/or editor of 15 books, including Chryselephantine Statuary in the Ancient Mediterranean World; Mysteries of the Snake Goddess: Art, Desire, and the Forging of History; Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World; and Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome as well as more than 100 articles and other publications.  His principal research interests include the materials, techniques, and functions of ancient art from the Bronze Age through the Roman period, ancient luxury, the post-antique reception of classical art, the histories of collecting and scholarship, and forgery.

Lecture made possible by a JSMA Academic Support Grant, the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, and the Oregon Humanities Center's Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Science, and Humanities.