Marble statues are now racist, according to an assistant professor of Classics at the University of Iowa.
Because many ancient marble statues and relieves were originally painted to be more life-like, thus covering up the original sculpting material. Since this paint wore off over time, many in the Renaissance and post-Classical world knew only of the now-paintless artwork, and sought to imitate the Classical world.
“Acceptance of polychromy by the public is another matter. A friend peering up at early-20th-century polychrome terra cottas of mythological figures at the Philadelphia Museum of Art once remarked to me: “There is no way the Greeks were that gauche.” How did color become gauche? Where does this aesthetic disgust come from? To many, the pristine whiteness of marble statues is the expectation and thus the classical ideal. But the equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe. Where this standard came from and how it continues to influence white supremacist ideas today are often ignored.”
While this turned out to not be historically accurate, the masters of the Renaissance arguably surpassed the Classical sculptors, in large part because the lack of paint or other colorants allowed the natural beauty of the material be seen. This has nothing to do with racial supremacy.
Unpainted marble, then, is now a tool of White Supremacy…
“Most museums and art history textbooks contain a predominantly neon white display of skin tone when it comes to classical statues and sarcophagi. This has an impact on the way we view the antique world. The assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region. The Romans, in fact, did not define people as ‘white’; where, then, did this notion of race come from?
“In early modern Europe, taxonomies were all the rage. What would later be termed the ‘scientific revolution’ was marked by a desire to categorize, label, and rank everything from plants to minerals. It was only a matter of time before humans were similarly subjected to such manmade systems of classification. At the same time, artists began to engage with mathematics and anatomy and to use classical sculpture as a means of addressing the question of replicable beauty through proportions.”
Yes, unpainted statues are not reflective of what we know now. But a mistake centuries ago does not equate with a grand plot to oppress non-White individuals.
The appreciation for unpainted statues is an appreciation for the material. This is the same regardless of the material. A statue made from onyx, in this regard, is no different than statues made from marble.
But it doesn’t stop there. Apparently mathematics in art is also a tool of oppression:
“The Dutch anatomist Pieter Camper believed that he could find the formula for perfect beauty through facial angles and used the statue as a standard to be attained. He began to measure human and animal facial features, particularly the lines running from the nose to the ear and the forehead to the jawbone. Those ratios were later used by others to create the racist ‘cephalic index,’ which categorized humans based on the width and length of their facial features. The Nazis drew on the index to support notions of Aryan superiority in Germany during the Third Reich.”
Never fear, o politically correct obsessive, art is increasingly bucking this with what could only be considered art justice.
I pity future archeologists…
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