Twenty-first century man, with his fitness programmes, beauty farms, health foods and plastic surgery, is apparently obsessed with his own body. And yet perfectly sculpted pecs are nothing new: our ideals of male beauty come to us from ancient Greece. Unlike the female body, which tends to adapt to the given historical period or civilization, the male aesthetic remains unchanged: introduced by the Greeks and consolidated by the Romans, it has survived intact to the present day.
Now, the Museo di Antichità, Via XX Settembre 88, is staging an exhibition 'Eroi e atleti' (Heroes and Athletes) inspired by the Olympic Games. Or at least in part. The ancient Greeks and Romans had no conception of winter sports and, preferring to practicising practice their physical activities in the open air, tended to wear as little as possible. The exhibition therefore concentrates on the naked body and sculpture, its ideal expressive medium. With an evident lack of more modern inhibitions.
The exhibition - with fifty magnificent works - offers a fascinating selection of sculpture and decorated vases, illustrating the aesthetic and moral significance of beauty in ancient times. Exceptional among them is the statue of Auriga, with its legendary sexual ambiguity, from the museum of Mozia, a small island off the coast of Trapani in Sicily. The statue, dating from 470-450 BC, has lost arms and feet but presents a muscular body in a sensual and provocative pose, further emphasised by a transparent robe which, transcending its marble reality, clings to the legs of the youth.
On view for the first time in Turin are the 'Kouroi Milani' from the Archeological Museum of Florence and the 'Kouros' from the Archeological Museum of Reggio Calabria: extraordinarily refined pieces produced in Italy in the fifth century BC.
Rounding out the exhibtion are some contemporary works: 'Specchi' (Mirrors) by Michelangelo Pistoletto, an Arte Povera painter and sculptor he was a ski coach for many years and perhaps was chosen for that reason.
... can't tell from their (heavily flash-based) website whether there's a catalog available ...