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Tony Grist

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Tutankhamen [Nov. 14th, 2007|09:47 am]
Tony Grist
I hate gold.

No, that's too extreme. It has its uses- as adornment, detail, garnish, highlight. I don't grudge medieval angels and saints their haloes of gold leaf.

But it's so wrong as a material for sculpture. The way it throws light around, the way it shouts its colour. Texture, modelling and contour are obscured by all that surface noise. 

The Greeks got it right- the metal you use for sculpture is bronze. 

The Egyptian ruling classes had no taste. No spirituality, no inner life. Their art is about power and ownership- nothing else. 

They thought they could take it with them.

Look at me in the Field of Reeds- throwing my weight around, flashing my gold.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2007-11-14 12:10 pm (UTC)
Remember that there is a spiritual difference as well. The pharaohs were gods manifest on earth - using gold and other ostentatious adornments was just one way they elevated themselves above the common man.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 12:49 pm (UTC)
Yes...

I'm not terribly sympathetic towards gods in human form. I reckon they've been responsible for an awful lot of mischief down the years.
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From: freesprouts
2007-11-14 12:13 pm (UTC)
Eh, I tend to agree. Bronze is the metal for sculpture.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 12:56 pm (UTC)
A lovely metal- sleek and subtle and deep- everything gold is not.
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From: sculptruth
2007-11-14 04:55 pm (UTC)
Well put, your description of bronze. This was the metal in which the Greeks recognised their pathos.

I love this post and the way you arrange words into thoughts. Even if you are all flashy in the reeds. :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 05:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks.

I don't believe it would be possible to express pathos in gold.
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From: sculptruth
2007-11-14 06:06 pm (UTC)
I think a lot of pretty objects can be fashioned from gold, but anything in that material will always carry a sort of preciousness for me, more akin to a trinket than a figure burdened with a story, history, and time.

Perhaps it's gold's greatest flaw, the inability to carry any record of time having passed. No patina, no rust, no mark at all except for where it may have been chipped or scraped. It lacks character, and meaning. All shine and no philosophy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 07:41 pm (UTC)
Yes.

Gold is incorruptible- inhuman, even a bit spooky.

I won't wear it.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2007-11-14 08:09 pm (UTC)
ooh that is very profound. Gold does not age, so carries no history of the object concerned. Thank for that insight. People on the other hand, patinate a lot, especially king Tut's rather leathery mummy.

I guess all the gold was then about incorruptible life and down with death!
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2007-11-14 12:24 pm (UTC)
Well... I really like the mask and other pieces... but I think I see your point.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 12:55 pm (UTC)
I'm being deliberatly contrarian. The media is so full of King Tut at the moment and how wonderful it all is...
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2007-11-14 01:04 pm (UTC)
I understand then! Well... it's not bad for really, really old stuff. *hee*
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 01:30 pm (UTC)
It's lasted well.

Being made of gold helps, of course.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-11-14 01:56 pm (UTC)
Yes. They were terribly ostentatious. Funny thing. They're using the mask to advertise the Tut exhibit but it is not present in this edition. I'm presuming this is the same Tut exhibit we saw last year in Chicago at the Field Museum. It's a totally different focus from the one that made the rounds 30 years ago and was full of gold trappings and treasure.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 02:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, this is the exhibition that visited Chicago. It's being housed in the Millennium Dome in London and they're charging £20 admittance- which is outrageous.

I saw the Tutankhamen stuff in Cairo 20 years ago. I can't say it left much of an impression.
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From: msjann65
2007-11-14 03:01 pm (UTC)
Twenty pounds???? Outrageous! Especially when you consider that it's for the fruits of a tomb robbing expedition!
As for King Tutankhamen's posthumous belongings: I could care less, believe me. There were many more pharaohs than this one boy-king, and many of them had a definite impact upon the history of the world. Not so young Tut.
Kind of reminds me of the Boston ballet's Xmas spectacular "Nutcracker" ballet. It's the only ballet that most people have ever heard of - and they love to flaunt their cultural "awareness" by talking of how much they paid for great seats to the "Nutcracker", and to talk about how many child-extras they have this year as opposed to last year. If you ask these people if they have seen "Giselle", you're likely to be answered, "Who's she?"
Likewise with Tut. Most people have no idea of the other kings of Egypt. A lot of them think that HE built the Pyramids. And what is really unpalatable is the fact that people are willing to pay a fortune to see these stolen artifacts when they should probably be made available at no cost. After all, one still must pay a museum entrance fee in order to get in the door. Why should it cost yet another twenty pounds (how much is that in American dollars, anyway?) to view something that is INSIDE the museum?
Sad...
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2007-11-14 03:34 pm (UTC)
I was curious, so I used a currency converter online. It's about $41USD, plus change.
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From: msjann65
2007-11-14 08:17 pm (UTC)

Yikes!

It's robbery! (How appropriate, since a tomb was robbed in order for there to be a show at all!)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-14 05:47 pm (UTC)
I love the Egyptian galleries in our little museum here in Manchester. Manchester University has been a major centre for Egyptological studies since the 19th century and that feeds into a display which- while it lacks spectacular artefacts- is very well curated and highly informative. It has taught me far more about life in ancient Egypt than the national collections in London and Cairo.
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From: msjann65
2007-11-14 08:20 pm (UTC)
In the Boston Museum of Fine Arts we have some fine statuary of the kings who built the pyramids, including a colossal statue in alabaster of Mycerinus (Merenptah) who built the third pyramid at Giza, and a small alabaster head of Chepren, as well as much other stuff from the Old Kingdom. This has always been my favorite section of the Museum, ever since I was a small girl visiting the Museum with my father on a Sunday afternoon.
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[User Picture]From: airstrip
2007-11-15 01:10 am (UTC)
Actually, I believe it was about being incorruptible and having a relation to the sun. The use of gold as a sculptural material increases with the prominence of the solar cult.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-11-15 09:26 am (UTC)
You're almost certainly right.

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