Gods in Color

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Archer from the western pediment of the Temple of Aphaia on Aigina, reconstruction, color variant A, as exhibited in Athens, perhaps depicting the Trojan prince, Paris [1]
Juxtaposition of the colored reconstruction and the weathered original of a bronze head in the Munich exhibition

Gods in Color or Gods in Colour (original title in German: Bunte Götter – Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur, painted gods - the polychromy of ancient sculpture) is a travelling exhibition of varying format and extent that has been shown in multiple cities worldwide. Its subject is ancient polychromy, i.e. the original, brightly-painted, appearance of ancient sculpture and architecture.


The Greek goddess Artemis, color reconstruction of a first century AD statue found in Pompeii, an imitation of Greek statues of the sixth century BC, reconstructed using analysis of trace pigments

The exhibition is based on the conclusions drawn from research on ancient polychromy, conducted especially by the Classical archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann since the early 1980s, based on earlier works by Volkmar von Graeve. Working together with Raimund Wünsche, the director of the Glyptothek at Munich, Brinkmann developed the concept for the exhibition, culminating in the original Munich show in 2003. It displayed copies of ancient sculpture in their reconstructed and painted appearance that had been produced during his studies, as well as new reconstructions created especially for the exhibition, in conjunction with the originals or comparable ancient sculptures. Soon, the exhibition began to travel to other cities in Germany and beyond.

Since 2007, the exhibition and underlying research has received support from a foundation created by the government of Bavaria, as well as private donations. After the original German catalogue produced for the 2003 Munich exhibition, new editions were issued for later showings, most recently for the 2010 one in Berlin. An English catalogue was published for the 2007-2008 showing in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard University. In 2007, the Colored Gods formed part of the exhibition, Color of Life – Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present, at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, with contributions in the respective catalogue.


Alternative reconstructions of the Peplos Kore displayed at the Athens show

So far, the exhibit has been shown in the following locations:

  1. 16. Dec. 2003 – 29. Feb. 2004: Glyptothek, Munich [2]
  2. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
  3. Vatican Museums, Rome
  4. 11. Aug. – 20. Nov. 2005: Skulpturhalle, Basel
  5. 2. Dec. 2005 – 26. Mar 2006: Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam
  6. 2006: Archaeological Museum, Istanbul
  7. 9. Jan. – 24. Mar. 2007: as Πολύχρωμοι Θεοί/Polychromoi Theoi, National Archaeological Museum, Athens
  8. 4. Apr. – 1. Jul. 2007: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg
  9. 22. Sep. 2007 – 20. Jan. 2008: as Gods in Color. Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard University, Cambridge (Massachusetts) [3]
  10. 6. Mar. – 23. Jun. 2008: Part of exhibition Color of Life – Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present, Getty Villa, Los Angeles [4]
  11. 8. Oct. 2008 – 15. Feb. 2009: Liebieghaus, Frankfurt am Main [5]
  12. 6. Mar. – 1. Jun. 2009: Antikensammlung, Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel
  13. 18. Dec. 2009 – 18. Apr. 2010: Museo Arqueológico Regional de la Comunidad de Madrid, Madrid
  14. 13. Jul. – 3. Oct. 2010: Antikensammlung in the Pergamonmuseum, Berlin
  15. 9. Oct. 2010 – 30. Jan. 2011: as White Lies, Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm [6]
  16. 6. Mar. – 31. Jul. 2011: Georg-August-Universität, Archaeological Institute, Göttingen [7]
  17. 29. Oct. 2011 - 20. May 2012: Heidelberg University[8]
  18. 28. June - 28.October 2012: Kunstsammlungen, Ruhr University Bochum
  19. 13. November 2012 - 17.March 2013: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
  20. 11. Apr. 2014 - 10. Aug. 2014: Museum of Tübingen University, Tübingen
  21. 22 Jan 2015 - 14 Jun 2015: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
  22. 11 Oct. 2016 - 8 Jan. 2017: Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
  23. 28 Oct. 2017 - 7 Jan. 2018: Legion of Honor (museum), San Francisco


In German:

  • Vinzenz Brinkmann, Raimund Wünsche (eds.): Bunte Götter. Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur. Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek, Munich 2004. ISBN 3-933200-08-3. [Original catalogue]
  • Various editions coinciding with later showings
  • Vinzenz Brinkmann, Andreas Scholl (eds.): Bunte Götter. Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur. Hirmer, Munich, 2010. ISBN 978-3-7774-2781-2 [Most recent edition]

In English:

  • Vinzenz Brinkmann (ed.): Gods in Color - Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Biering & Brinkmann, Munich, 2007. ISBN 3-930609-54-1 [Coinciding with Harvard showing]
  • Roberta Panzanelli, Eike Schmidt, Kenneth Lapatin (eds.): The Color of Life: Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2008. ISBN 0-892369-18-3 [Catalogue for the L.A. exhibition, including sections on the Gods in Color exhibit]
  • Vinzenz Brinkmann, Oliver Primavesi, Max Hollein: Circumlitio. The Polychromy of Antique and Medieval Sculpture. 2010.


External links[edit]