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Ancient Greek sculptures were colourful. Why does the white marble ideal persist?

For most people today, ancient Greek sculpture brings to mind images of pearly white human figures. Yet, ever since the first excavations of Pompeii in the 17th century, archeologists have known that these sculptures were painted in vivid colours. The German archeologists Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann have been studying the polychromatic nature of ancient Greek sculptures for some four decades – a process that involves research through reconstruction. In this short film from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Brinkmann discusses their process, and why the visual code of white antique marble persists today.

Video by the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Directors: Sarah Cowan, Jonathan Sanden

26 July 2022

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