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Curated by Heather Read, PhD student in the department of Art History and Archaeology, and Elizabeth Wolfson, MA student in the department of Art History and Archaeology (with Karen K. Butler)

Greek mythology is a defining aspect of Western culture, enduring well beyond its original relevance because of the malleability of its themes. For the Greeks, mythology embodied the faults and strengths of human nature and its narratives clothed the fears, beliefs, and moral codes of their society. In the modern and contemporary period, mythology allows artists to speak allegorically about contemporary issues such as race or class, to comment indirectly on the horrors of war, or to simply explore formal concerns.

This Teaching Gallery exhibition brings together objects from ancient Greece and works by modern and contemporary artists in order to explore the persistence of Greek mythology in modern art. Selected works include the Athena Painter Lekythos (525-500 BC), the Long-Nose Painter Amphora (540-525 BC), David Hare’s Leda and the Swan, Study (1960), Henri Laurens’s La Petite Sirène (1950), Fritz Scholder’s The Odyssey #2 (1976-77), and Jorge Pardo’s Penelope (2002).

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Selected works

The Teaching Gallery is a space in the Kemper Art Museum dedicated to presenting works from the Museum's collection with direct connections to Washington University courses. Teaching Gallery installations are intended to serve as parallel classrooms and can be used to supplement courses through object-based inquiry, research, and learning. Learn more