ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS – Art is long, life short.
Or, more broadly interpreted, “Art is eternal, its makers mortal”
Hippokrates of Kos, Aphorism 1 (ca. 400 BC).
From the rediscovery of ancient sites and artworks in the Renaissance until the present day, the world of classical antiquity lives on, continually fascinating and inspiring artists. Countless students of painting and sculpture have honed their crafts by studying and emulating ancient masterworks, while others have created wholly original artworks with clear reference—whether positive or negative—to the antique.
In this exhibition, drawn primarily from the permanent collection of the Tampa Museum of Art, visitors first encountered fascinating trompe l’oeils by Peter Saari, twentieth-century paintings made to look like ancient Roman wall and floor fragments. Maura Sheehan’s intentionally fragmented sculptures similarly challenged the viewer to consider the relationship between ancient and contemporary art. Other highlights included a range of responses to the familiar silhouettes and contours of Greek black-figure and red-figure pottery, from faithful nineteenth-century engravings to decidedly contemporary versions created by artists like James Rosenquist, Phillip Pearlstein, and Duncan McClellan. Similarly, stunning but relatively straightforward neoclassical works by C. Paul Jennewein and others stood in contrast to reimagined histories and mythologies created by Jim Dine, Nancy Graves, Stanley William Hayter, Pablo Picasso, and others.