That’s right, the killer collection of Roman art from the most famous art museum EVER, the Louvre in Paris, is on display at the Seattle Art Museum until May 11- then it is gone forever, just like the Roman empire!
You have a few cool opportunities to see the Roman Art from the Louvre this side of Paris:
- Seattle Art Walk takes place every first Thursday (May 1) and the Seattle Art Museum is always free on this day. Free art for humans!
- Marathons may have originated in Greece but this weekend the Seattle Art Museum hosts a marathon art event: the SAM will be open from 10AM on Saturday, May 10 all the way to 9PM on Sunday, May 11. Art at 4AM takes on a whole new meaning- try it out.
Why would you want to see this exhibit? Because Cultures Collide at the Seattle Art Museum:
Ancient Romans and modern Americans would have gotten along famously; both of our societies are enamored with excess, violence, vanity, self-love, crass consumption and some would say imperialistic tendencies. We would have loved their bloody matches at the Colosseum, cheering on our favorite gladiators (Russell Crowe, duh); we would eat ourselves silly at ridiculous feasts and then shop all day long at the markets. Romans would similarly thrill at the entrance to a Costco, the noble ladies would be all about the Botox, and those epic social gamers would be all over Myspace, or at least Facebook, chatting about who was at the Forum the night before (OMG did you see what Proserpina was wearing?)
For this reason alone you should go to the Seattle Art Museum and experience the Roman art from the Louvre, to compare the two cultures and decide for yourself the importance of the remaining influence of one of the greatest empires ever known. The creative aspirations of the Romans have influenced Western society immensely. Much of what we know about Greek art actually comes from Roman copies of their statues, which in turn inspired the Renaissance several hundred years later, fomenting a Neoclassical movement whose effects you can see all over America today, from our nation’s Capitol Building to Seattle’s beloved Smith Tower and the glass archway over Pike Street. We walk under their arches every day, and the ghosts of Rome walk among us.
I have spent hours and hours at the Louvre soaking up the Roman artwork that is now on display on Seattle, and it is worth a visit, even on a sunny afternoon. The art’s new context in the New World will definitely add a twist and a chance for fresh insight to the French collection. The exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum is planned out simply with easy to navigate, color-coded themes about Roman life. Some say that the Louvre’s exhibit was dumbed down for Americans and attempts to explain Roman history on a sixth grade level to visitors who all think that a vomitorium is where you puke after a meal and might not even be able to find Rome on a map. I say, it’s a cultural match made in the afterlife, and the ancient Romans would have thought so too.