Kallos. The Ultimate Beauty

Through 300 exceptional antiquities from Museums, Ephorates of Antiquities and Collections in Greece and abroad, various aspects of the notion of Kallos (meaning beauty in Greek) in everyday life and philosophical discourse in ancient Greece are presented.

The multiple aspects of the concept of Kallos in the everyday life and the philosophical discourse of ancient Greece are presented in the major, emblematic, archaeological exhibition of the Museum of Cycladic Art, titled “ΚΑLLOS. The Ultimate Beauty”.

Τhe exhibition displays three hundred emblematic antiquities from fifty-two museums, collections, and Ephorates of Antiquities throughout Greece, as well as from Italy, and the Vatican. The overwhelming majority appear for the first time outside of the museums of their provenance. They meet and mingle in the Museum of Cycladic Art, so as to give an integrated picture of the ideal of Kallos, inadequately translated into English as Beauty.

The selected exhibits date mainly from the seventh to the first century BC – that is, from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period – and are complemented by a handful of works of Roman times in those cases where the original creations of earlier periods have survived only in copies.

Kallos is an ideal, developed in ancient Greek thinking and was expressed through the verses of the epic (8th century BC) and lyric (7th – 6th century BC) poets, initially as outward beauty. From the sixth century BC onwards, the concept was crystallized gradually through the texts of the philosophers, who referred to Kallos as a combination of physical appearance and virtues of the soul. It is on this dimension of Kallos that the exhibition of the Museum of Cycladic Art concentrates, enhancing the contribution of ancient Greece to defining the notion of beauty that prevails to this day.

In this exhibition, Kallos is conveyed through a vast wealth and variety of antiquities, such as statues, vases, sherds (broken ceramics), mirrors, jewellery, perfume vases, accessories of the toilette and beautification (cosmetic unguents, pigments, and so on), objects of clay, stone metal and terracottas of various periods, mainly Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic figurines, tools for styling the hair, such as iron scissors, little combs, and so on.

The geographical provenance of the objects was selected on the basis of specific criteria: the exhibits come from all over mainland and island Greece, so as to emphasize the participation of most of the cities of Greek Antiquity and the diffusion of the concept of Kallos to all sectors of society. The exhibition also hosts a corresponding number of antiquities from Magna Graecia, enabling the visitor to comprehend the phenomenon of the dispersion of the notion of Kallos also to the Greek colonies in the West.
The exhibition also includes artifacts from the Vatican Museum, the Archaeological Museums of Florence, Naples, Rome, Bologna, Venice, Syracuse, Catania and the National Archaeological Park of Ostia. From the initial selection of six hundred pieces, three hundred were chosen, as the museological study demanded those that best strengthened each section, in order to make them most intelligible to the public.

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