'The new pictures of Augustus: Power and Media in Ancient Rome' explored in new exhibition

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'The new pictures of Augustus: Power and Media in Ancient Rome' explored in new exhibition
Installation view. Photo: Ulrich Perrey.



HAMBURG.- Augustus marks a turning point in Roman history. The first emperor (27 BC to 14 AD) not only possessed immense power, but also used novel communication strategies. With the exhibition The New Pictures of Augustus. Power and media in ancient Rome a central aspect of ancient image culture: the veritable boom in images that broke ground under the first Roman Emperor Augustus.

The first exhibition on Augustus in Germany for 34 years presents 220 objects such as statues, busts, reliefs, murals, coins and ceramics from the Louvre in Paris, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Capitoline and Vatican Museums in Rome, the Archaeological National Museum in Naples and other important European museums and collections come from the pictures and monuments of this time.

The sole rule of Augustus and the accompanying transition from the republic to the imperial period represents a drastic break in Roman history: Images played an unexpected role in this. A new desire for the image led to a new approach to media and changed the style in the various genres such as wall painting, sculpture, architecture or everyday objects. New clients - not only the elite, but society in its entirety now commissioned and received pictorial works - ensured an unprecedented wealth of images everywhere. The veritable copyist industry resorted to newly developed marble quarries on a large scale.

The exhibition at Bucerius Kunst Forum shows the new way of dealing with images in five chapters: The image of the emperor and the empress , new narratives and memorable images , the new image of the city , new and old images in cults and images in the house between tradition and innovation .

At the beginning, the pictorial innovations are made tangible by means of the emperor's self-portrayal. The imperial family communicated with the people in various media through images in the form of portrait heads, busts, statues and coins, which spread in Rome and the provinces in an unprecedented omnipresence. Augustus also used new narratives and memorable images about the history of the city of Rome, the divine origin of his family, his successes and the victoriousness of the emperor in general for his self-portrayal. These pictorial ideas were displayed in prominent new buildings, among other things, and were received throughout the empire. In the exhibition these can be seen on wall frescoes, architectural fragments, terracottas, statues and figurines, reliefs and inscriptions. The cityscape of Rome also changed at the time of Augustus through prestigious building projects. This is made visible in the exhibition using selected buildings such as the Augustus Forum. Augustus propagated these buildings and also the building projects by depicting them on coins throughout the empire. The new desire for pictures at the beginning of the imperial period was particularly evident in the private sphere. In addition to the wall paintings, the new picture galleries and Pinakotheken, this also applies to the sculptures, marble and bronze tripods and candelabra that populated the gardens of the rich. The tableware was also discovered as a picture carrier. Augustus propagated these buildings and also the building projects by depicting them on coins throughout the empire. The new desire for pictures at the beginning of the imperial period was particularly evident in the private sphere. In addition to the wall paintings, the new picture galleries and Pinakotheken, this also applies to the sculptures, marble and bronze tripods and candelabra that populated the gardens of the rich. The tableware was also discovered as a picture carrier. Augustus propagated these buildings and also the building projects by depicting them on coins throughout the empire. The new desire for pictures at the beginning of the imperial period was particularly evident in the private sphere. In addition to the wall paintings, the new picture galleries and Pinakotheken, this also applies to the sculptures, marble and bronze tripods and candelabra that populated the gardens of the rich. The tableware was also discovered as a picture carrier.










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