Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Byz Mus

Well, it's so there, like in your face every time you go down to Syntagma or pass by Kolonaki, sitting there in all it's courtyarded synmmetry next to the uber-modern leggo-brick of the war museum. You cannot get away from it, and this time, seeing as I had about 30 minutes left to spare in between IKA and the Aiginitio, I decided to go for it.

Comments? well... wow bob wow!!

I had been back before the famous Sicilian expedition of 2001, back in the age of innocence, before the events of September, and the museum was in the old central building and not too exciting, a little cramped and badly lit.

Now, well, totally different. I was really quite overawed. The last real exhibition of Byz stuff I had seen, if we exclude the collections in St. Marky-Mark's in Venice, was in the Louvre, where I had been bowled over by the representations sorta in-situ of the Coptic stuff.

The exhibition is organised a little bit chronologically, a little bit thematically and a little bit geographically. The labelling is as good as any you'll find elsewhere and the stuff in there is good stuff - like, I had never seen anything like the marble icon of the BVM from C12th Salonika.

I am not much of an icon man, but this one stuck in my mind: (bring out the mobile cam...)

It's like "squirt, gush" John Boorman's Excalibur meets the crucifixion... woo!

So, time for more pics, then:

Here's a bit of lacy plant material, similar to what you'll find in Justinian's churches in Istanbul, if you go:

'cept it's really nice and clean here and you can get right up close to it and all. They have some nice floor plans of Basilicas and whatnot, some drawn on the ground, to give an idea of scale, but one thing that jerked me off a little was the way they have put up iconostasis members and bits of doors and stuff and then behind it, put in a picture of San Vitale from Classe (WTF??) or Hossios Loukas (better, but still jarring). Quite obviously the bits you are displaying never existed in San Vitale - it was always totally open, but no, you gotta claim that as Byz - fine. Moot point.

What I did not find was quite as much Gothic stuff as I had hoped. Korinna and I have this running Gothic Joke, probably because our first trip out of Athens took in a rather fine Gothic monastery out at Isova, but maybe not.

All I got (and please remember I was not in there for too long) was this:

Pretty Frankish, really... hmmm. Actually this bit belonged in the church at Andravida (about half way down the page) we visited with the Jockster.

This is meant to have considerable gothic influence in it too:

I'll let the reader decide.

Need to go back with my cameras. They have the lighting in there all at low incident angles to bring out the sexiest shadows possible from the bas-reliefs.

Well... must scoot - I am very happy that I chose to pop in there, though.


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