venerdì 15 agosto 2014

Art critic Phillippe Daverio joins debate on Riace bronzes

Controversy continues over possible display at Milan Expo

(ANSA) - Catanzaro, August 12 - Debate over whether the 2,500-year-old Riace bronzes should travel to Milan Expo 2015 continued Tuesday when art critic Philippe Daverio weighed in with ironic commentary in a popular magazine.

In an interview in this week's issue of the lifestyle magazine Oggi, he quipped that perhaps the statues should be divided so the collection would be put at risk. "Perhaps only one of the bronzes could go to Milan, leaving the other in Reggio Calabria," he said. "But then there would be a controversy over which one of the two to send, so we could ask cultural minister (Dario) Francheschini to flip a coin to decide," Daverio added. Italy should show its "cultural muscle" at Expo and should therefore consider a dedicated space for the Riace bronzes at the Expo to show the archaeological finds at their best, said Daverio.

Earlier this month, Simonetta Bonomi, Calabria's superintendent for cultural heritage, spoke of risks involved in moving and displaying the bronzes at Expo. She said that she hadn't received any official request to display them at Expo, but that "as a superintendency we've been talking about these risks for the last 30 years".

The bronzes spent four years stuck in bureaucratic red tape awaiting restoration and were returned for public display at Reggio Calabria's national archeological museum in December 2013. Calabria has historically kept a tight grip on the much-loved statues since their discovery by a diver in 1972. Regional authorities have allowed them to tour the country just once, in 1981, to sold-out venues in Rome, Venice, and Milan, a tour in which the statues were seen by over one million people overall.

The 2,500-year-old exceedingly rare bronzes stand two metres tall, and are an exceptionally realistic rendering of warriors or gods. Both are naked, with silver lashes and teeth, copper red lips and nipples, and eyes made of ivory, limestone, and a glass and amber paste. Among those in favor of displaying the bronzes at Expo include art critic and former undersecretary of cultural heritage Vittorio Sgarbi, who defended his position in last week's issue of Oggi, and Lombardy governor Roberto Maroni, who tweeted a link to Sgarbi's article. 

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