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Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World Symposium V: Material Matters: Why Bronze?

Carol Mattusch, Mathy Professor of Art History Emerita, George Mason University. The exhibition Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, on view at the National Gallery of Art from December 13, 2015, to March 20, 2016, presents some 50 bronze sculptures and related works, dating from the fourth century BC to the first century AD. They span the Hellenistic period, when the art and culture of Greece spread throughout the Mediterranean and lands once conquered by Alexander the Great. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to witness the importance of bronze in the ancient world, when it became the preferred medium for portrait sculpture. In this public symposium held on March 18 and 19, 2016, in conjunction with the exhibition, Carol Mattusch questions the preference for bronze—citing, for example, that a nude bronze man with flashing eyes, open mouth, copper lips, and reflective physique was as realistic as statuary got.