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Local blogger Band of Thebes thinks something’s missing in The National Gallery of Art’s new exhibition, “Pompeii and the Roman Villa“: Gay men. “The first ever Roman exhibit at the National Gallery in Washington is indeed a convincing trip back in time: to the McCarthy era,” writes Thebes, who takes issue with the lack of context in the show, which fails to acknowledge Roman sexuality.
The wan written commentary seems designed to reinforce what viewers already believe rather than educate them about what they don’t know. Many, many artifacts have no commentary at all. Although the show’s subtitle specifically promises the culture of the ancient world, nowhere do the curators acknowledge the prevalence of same-sex relationships. The exhibit is packed with male subjects who exclusively or enthusiastically loved men, yet this aspect of their lives is whitewashed: Plato, Alexander the Great, Epicurus, Julius Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Achilles.
My favorite line in the post: “Is the enormous painting above Vesuvius erupting or my mind exploding?”
Photo of “Vesuvius from Portici” by Joseph Wright of Derby courtesy of brewbooks