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jeffrey carson and the summer in greece

Post #309 • June 29, 2004, 7:48 AM • 12 Comments

Jeffrey Carson of the Aegean Center was quoted by Reuters regarding the botched restoration of the Acropolis.

Culture ministry officials, who had hoped to have the city's landmark monument, the Acropolis, looking its best by August, have conceded that scaffolding will be obscuring the view when Olympic tourists arrive.

"It's a disgrace," said Jeffrey Carson, a United States art historian and classical scholar who lives in Greece.

"The Acropolis has been deconstructed and it's inconceivable that it will be put back exactly as it was."

"This was built by the greatest architect the world has known," he added.

Greece had a chance to shine this summer with the return of the Olympic Games to its homeland. Instead, the Parthenon will be under scaffolding, the new Akropolis Museum will "not even be partially ready," and the National Archeological Museum will be "will only partially reopen in August."

The good news is that the smaller museums got their acts together; special exhibits will be on display in their entirety at the Cultural Centre of Athens, the Frissiras Gallery, the National History Museum, the newly expanded Byzantium and Christian Museum, the "new National Sculpture Gallery" (actually an extension of the National Gallery of Art), and the "new Museum of Islamic Art" (I'm fairly sure the article means the new extension of the Benaki).




June 29, 2004, 4:40 PM

OK, Franklin. I guess if you are trying to cool things down, this ought to do just fine.


Michael Betancourt

June 29, 2004, 5:37 PM

It's funny. I think this makes the fouth time the acropolis has been rebuilt. I wonder what it looks like this time around.



June 29, 2004, 6:07 PM

Franklin - How about regaling us with a reminiscence or two? (Of the Acropolis, Carson, the Aegean Center, or whatever comes to mind).


mary agnes

June 29, 2004, 6:28 PM

Very cool of you Franklin to give that tour of the smaller musuems. The sort of thing that gives your blog a richness in terms of the cultural items. Well balanced by the moral outrage I might add. I am all for your being a watchdog of western architectural patrimony!



June 29, 2004, 11:04 PM

i don't think the greeks are doing anything wrong. whether the acropolis was built by the greatest architect the world has known or not, it is over 2000 years old, and if we leave it alone it's going to be dust soon. so trying to preserve what's left of it, by whatever means are appropriate, seems quite reasonable. taking it apart temporarily may be the best way to ensure it lasts another 2000 years.

and i think the outrage would be considerably greater if the restoration was done shoddily and RUSHED to have it finished by the olympics. it sports fans want to see these worldly treasures, they can come back in five or ten years. this is too important to set arbitrary deadlines.



June 30, 2004, 12:05 AM

Oldpro: yep.

Michael: the Acropolis has been rebuilt three times before this? I can think of one: after it was sacked by the Persians. What are the other two? (I know, I can Google it, but what fun is that?)

Hovig: Here's one. Jeffrey Carson teaches art history and creative writing at the Aegean Center, arguably the best art school in the world. He's also a poet who has translated modern Greek poets as well. Fall semester at the Aegean Center has students staying for a month in a villa in Pistoia, Italy, and traveling from there to Venice, Prato, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Athens, and finally to the school in Paros, Greece for three months, where everybody gets a studio and works on whatever they want. Many people are there to learn to paint. All through the travels Jeffrey regales them with tales of art history and wars and scandals about the art and architecture right there in front of them. One day he casually sat down at an organ that happened to be at the Villa, and started wailing on it. It sounded like an old ice rink in there. It turns out that he's from a family of musicians. I wrote an essay about the Aegean Center for American Arts Quarterly if you're interested.

Alesh: you should hire yourself out to my students to write excuses for them! ;o) But come on, the Greeks knew the Games were coming way in advance. Either they should have finished the restoration on time or waited until afterwards to start it. It wouldn't have turned to dust in a few years.


Michael Betancourt

June 30, 2004, 12:16 AM

Up until it got blown up during the anti-Turk revolution, it was burned down. If i remember rightly, at least one of the other times it was Sparta that did it. But these things happen, so they just built it again to be more or less identical.



June 30, 2004, 1:57 AM

Here you go, guys:

Parthenon for the Parthena (Virgin) Athena. The Emperor Theodosius turned the Parthenon into a Christian Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Franks into a Catholic Church (1204) and the Turks into a Mosque (1458). The Parthenon in Athens, Greece, was built at the initiative of Pericles. In 480-479 BC Persians destroyed most of the buildings of the Acropolis in Athens. The architects were Iktinos and Kallikrates. Construction began in 447 BC and it was completed by 438 BC, while decorations were added until at least 432 BC for which the sculptor Pheidias (or Phidias) was responsible. Additional work was done also until 425 BC. The Venetian Francesco Morosini (1618-94) destroyed Athena's team of chariot horses trying to remove the sculpture group from the west pediment. In 1686 the temple of Nike was destroyed by the Turks and was restored in 1835. In 1687, while the Turks were using it as a powder magazine, they were attacked by Venetian military forces of Morosini (with Otto Vilhelm von Kigsmark as field commander). A German lieutenant fired the fatal shot (26 September 1687) which reduced this crowning glory of Grecian art to a mere skeleton. The roof collapsed, parts of the sculptures and pillars were destroyed. Jacques Carrey, a French artist in 1674 spent two weeks making sketches and drawings of the Parthenon that provide an idea of the building as it was before the explosion.


Michael Betancourt

June 30, 2004, 3:49 AM

Thanks! :)

I see I need a memory upgrade....
(I should know this better than I do)



June 30, 2004, 5:35 AM

With Google, who needs memory?



June 30, 2004, 5:39 AM

I'm sorry - what were we talking about?



June 30, 2004, 6:11 AM

i'm sure your students are very good at balancing the requirements of their artistic growth against the need to party in their college years. and i'm sure you're understanding of that, and take their excuses with a grain of salt.

maybe the acropolis renovations were motivated by the olympics . . . but now they're being done, and i sure as hell don't want to see them rushed so some tourists can get in two great experiences in one trip.



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