Monday, January 5, 2009

High Times

Yesterday we made our first of several likely visits to The High Museum of Art to see The First Emperor, China's Terracotta Army and the last day of the Medieval & Renaissance Treasures exhibits from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Terracotta Soldiers are the big draw for obvious reasons. It was a major coupe for The High Museum in Atlanta to land this exhibit, the largest of its kind outside of China (19 life-size figures) and various other artifacts held in the US. Time Magazine ranked this as the 4th best museum exhibit of 2008.

A quick history of the Terra Cotta Army: In 1974 Chinese farmers discovered the site while drilling a well. Subsequently, a massive archeological project has been undertaken that has resulted in the unearthing of an astounding, in both size and quality, collection of terracotta funerary objects including soldiers, chariots, horses, beurocrats, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians. This collection of objects was part of the grave of Qin Shi Huang, China's First Emperor and chief architect of the Chinese empire and date back to the 3rd century B.C.E. Due to a lack of technology to preserve the paint that covers most of these figures (the paint deteriorates from the moment it's exposed to air), the emperor's gravesite remains dovered while other sites are explored and the technology perfected. The 19 square mile site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A photo of the army excavation site.

A repaired figure on exhibit this one likley a beurocrat or court entertainer. Each figure is unique in it's facial expression, clothing, posture, etc., an amazing feat for something that was esentially mass produced in an assembly line of potters, scupltors, and painters.

We also visited the collection of items lent to the high from the Victoria and Albert Museum, including a Da Vinci notebook among the other fantastic items.

There was a collection of ivory items including a round "bucket" carved in minute detail with Biblical scenes (I was unable to find a photo) as well as a number of book covers made from ivory plates, see picture below, that adorned the outside of great books, primarily in monasteries.

It was a great afternoon at the museum, capped off by an excellent lunch at Table 1280 (see previous post).


Pigtown-Design said...

I saw the Terra Cotta Warriors at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. They were incredible.

Athenaeus said...

All that I'd seen on TV and in Mags didn't prepare me for how truly amazing they are when you're face to facw with them. They're so lifelike in their facial expressions, hairstyles, and clothing.

Jennifer said...

I saw these warriors in Paris at the Pinacothèque museum behind the Madeleine church. It's a relatively new museum, 2007, and is located in the building that housed the Fauchon bakery/pastry store. Fauchon is still in the area, on the opposite corner, smaller and not nearly what it once was.
The show was amazing, the skill at working bronze and terracotta was amazing and to see it up close was a treat..