Archaic Colours

Our colour palette for Jocasta’s website consists of interchangeable bright blue and red tones. This chromatic choice was not accidental. Greek temples and sculptures have been preserved till nowadays in a radiant white – a special characteristic of the precious marble quarried throughout Greece that has the quality of reflecting the blinding brightness of the Greek light. The white quality of Greek sculpture was exalted as the artistic instantiation of the sublime and the pure undifferentiated ideal beauty, distinctive from painting and mere decoration, in the neo-classical aesthetics of the 18th century (e.g. Winckelmann, Lessing cf. later Hegel and even later Pater). This aesthetic appreciation of the white colour was implicitly manipulated inter alia as the ideological basis for the justification of the supremacy of white skin–and by extension race–concurrently and in the following centuries. The spectre of the fragmented white marble ruins is still haunting the 20th- and 21st-century culture leading to the ancient Greek world being less represented than the Roman in contemporary mass media such as cinema partially due to its connotations with exclusionary intellectualism.

Modern scientific methods and technological advances have contributed to the unravelling of a distilled uniform visual imagery of Ancient Greece suggesting the potentiality of colour existence on marble surfaces. This overwhelming and debatable colourful reconstruction of the ancient world incites us to re-negotiate our notion of classical aesthetics and rethink to what extent our conceptualisation of Greek antiquity is a modern construal. Inspired from the exhibition organized by the Acropolis Museum on the reconstruction of the colours of archaic sculptures in 2012, we have selected the recurrent in chromatic restorations bright blue and red as the basic colours of Jocasta’s website. In this direction, we hope that, through the project’s multilateral research activities, the plurality of voices inherent in the Classical Reception will emerge, pointing not to a static one-dimensional monochromic surface but to a dynamic divergent mosaic.

Efstathia Athanasopoulou

Archaic Colours, Acropolis Museum 2012

Puma Rihanna