Gods in Color

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Experimental color reconstruction of an archer from the pediments of the temple of Aphaea on Aigina, Variant C, Frankfurt Liebieghaus 2021

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 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 2020 one in Frankfurt. An English catalogue was published for the 2007-2008 showing in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum at Harvard University and more recently for the show in San Francisco (Legion of Honor (museum)). 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.


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

  1. 16. Dec. 2003 – 29. Feb. 2004: Glyptothek, Munich[1]
  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)[2]
  10. 6. Mar. – 23. Jun. 2008: Part of exhibition Color of Life – Polychromy in Sculpture from Antiquity to the Present, Getty Villa, Los Angeles[3]
  11. 8. Oct. 2008 – 15. Feb. 2009: Liebieghaus, Frankfurt am Main[4]
  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[5]
  16. 6. Mar. – 31. Jul. 2011: Georg-August-Universität, Archaeological Institute, Göttingen[6]
  17. 29. Oct. 2011 - 20. May 2012: Heidelberg University[7]
  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
  24. 30 Jan. 2020 - 26 Sept. 2021: as Bunte Götter - Golden Edition, Liebieghaus, Frankfurt am Main[8]

Research and Reconstruction Objects (selection)[edit]

West and East pediment of Aphaea Temple on Aegina

  • Archer in Scythian garment (3 Variants)
  • Statue of Athena (2 Variants)
  • Head of a warrior (2 Variants)
  • Shield with boar as device
  • Shield with eagle and serpent

Sculpture from the Athenian Acropolis

Sculpture from Attica

  • Grave Statue of Phrasikleia Kore
  • Grave Stele of Aristion (2 Variants)
  • Theseus and Antiope from Eretria (2 Variants)
  • Grave Stele of Paramythion (2 Variants)

Sculpture from Delos

  • So-called Small Herculaneum Woman
  • Statue of a Muse (5 Variants)

Other sculpture from Greece

Sculpture from Pompeii

  • So-called Winckelmann-Artemis (3 Variants)
  • So-called Venus Lovatelli

Roman portraiture

  • Portrait of Emperor Caligula (3 Variants)

Elements from Greek Architecture

  • Antefix from the Temple of Aphaea
  • Ionic capital from the Athenian Agora


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
  • Vinzenz Brinkmann, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann (eds.): Bunte Götter - Golden Edition. Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur. Prestel, Munich 2020.

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.
  • Vinzenz Brinkmann, Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann, Renée Dreyfus: Gods in Color - Polychromy in the Ancient World, Prestel, New York 2017.



  1. ^ Bunte Götter: Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur: Amazon.de: Vinzenz Brinkmann, Raimund Wünsche, Renate Kühling: Bücher. ASIN 3933200083.
  2. ^ Harvard exhibition Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "The Color of Life (Getty Villa Exhibitions)". getty.edu.
  4. ^ "Bunte Götter. Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur - Rückblick - Ausstellungen - Liebieghaus". liebieghaus.de.
  5. ^ "Hem — Medelhavsmuseet". Medelhavsmuseet.
  6. ^ Dr. Frank Witzel, Andreas Riechel, Internetredaktion, Stabsstelle Presse, Kommunikation und Marketing. "Georg-August-Universität Göttingen - Bunte Götter - Die Farbigkeit antiker Skulptur". uni-goettingen.de.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Holger Altenbach. "Antikenmuseum und Abguss-Sammlung". uni-hd.de.
  8. ^ "Gods in Color, Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung Digitorial".
  9. ^ noted in the catalogue of Liebieghaus Museum

External links[edit]