Art: The Masterpiece Road Show

An exhibit of ancient Greek sculpture is used to advance a specious political argument

It must be said, straight off, that The Greek Miracle: Classical Sculpture from the Dawn of Democracy, now at the National Gallery in Washington (it goes to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City in March), is a very odd show. Largely composed of loans from the Greek government, it combines a number of profound, exquisite and completely irreplaceable works of art, which wiser owners would not have exposed to the risks of travel, with an utter shallowness of argument about their social and ritual meanings. Insofar as an exhibition can assemble great sculpture and have practically no scholarly value, this...

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