Form has always followed function. The decorative and applied arts in Europe between the 17th and the 20th centuries adjust to each culture, enabling, through make and use, the expression of current religious, political, and economic norms – or effect their reversal.
200 + 200 defines time, with a starting time the end of the Renaissance until the Greek Revolution and ends with the making of new contemporary. Decorative and applied arts that were used in the Greek mainland but may been produced in European cities are studied for their manufacturing and use, symbolism and social status acclimating everyday life to proclaim the importance of arts through different periods in history.
The Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire (1821-1829) was a cataclysmic event that gave birth to a new nation-state: Modern Hellas, plainly known as ‘Greece’ to the present day. It was an all-out war fought on land and at sea, a stubborn fight in the name of freedom, justice and, in effect, Modernity. As such, it drew on the resources of a centuries-long tradition of free thinking and cultural expression.
The exhibition does not tell the story of the ‘Greek Revolution’ as such; instead, it turns to the material culture shaping the communities that eventually rose against the mighty Ottomans. In many ways, rural and urban Greeks of the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries shared the material culture of their despots, while at the same time turning their gaze westwards, fascinated by the arts and styles they could find in ‘Europe’. The exhibition thus tells the story of material culture in the 200 years prior to Greece’s liberation; and that of its aftermath 200 until today.
Interactions were plentiful and meaningful. Often enough, meanings were turned upside down, and as new symbolisms were being re-invented. The making of the mechanisms for the fighting guns, the table clocks and the pocket watches are a case in point: these were originally produced in Europe: Italy, Albania, France and then were brought to the Greek mainland before and during the years of the War of Independence to be remodeled and bejeweled. It is here where facets of the fine and traditional Greek crafts are revealed to become symbols of liberation, hierarchy and status.
The spoils of war are only some of the remarkable artifacts that have remained with Greek private and Museum collections, speaking of the many centuries of historical turbulence in Europe. Today, they are resistant to time as relics of significant works of art.
This exhibition endorses the making of artifacts, their use but also their beauty which becomes an inspiration to study while aspiring to become the vision for new traditional crafts a goal to which the ILJMuseum is dedicated through its diverse cultural programs.
The exhibition curation has chosen six parameters of artefacts that are most popular within Greek collections and loudly speak of their province, manufacturing, use and thus historic significance. The exhibits date from the early 17th century until early 20th century and are brought to light as a very small sample of the collections found in private and museum collections. The exhibition will be accompanied by cultural and educational programs bringing a new era to traditional crafts used for modern design, a new perspective on museum school programs and irresistible insights to unknown Greek collections.
MAPPING: Commerce in Europe in the Years of the Turkish Empire is widely seen on gravures of maps. Commercial activity has taken a new lead since the end of the Middle Ages, bringing to Europe not only the finest of materials from the East but also the compilation of new workshops and guilds. Nonetheless most of the precious finished articles or just parts are transferred with ships across the Mediterranean bringing to the Turks and suppressed Greeks to be utilized accordingly.
MAKING & FIRING: Arms and Armor from the Eastern Mediterranean was an extremely popular enterprise undertaking. The making of the mechanisms and the barrels for the fighting guns were originally produced in Italy, Spain and Albania and then were brought to the Greek mainland before and during the years of the War of Independence to be remodeled and bejeweled. Pistols, flint lock, blunderbuss, knives, swords and their paraphernalia allow facets of the Mediterranean Greek crafts revealed becoming symbols of liberation, hierarchy and status.
THE INDENTITY OF ATTIRE: Functions of Dress and Jewelry in Men, Women and Children from the Greek Mainland will endorse an important section of this exhibition. In a continuously changing society, dress became an important symbol of local societies reaching hundreds of combinations based on local habits and ethnographic traditions. “Greek traditional jewelry” follows function in an incredible caress on focal parts of the human body.
ART DE LA TABLE: The Luxury of Porcelains on the Table of the Greek Revolution:Heated Ceramics from the East Iznik to the western Porcelains are found on the Turkish and Greek tables, fired and decorated with the most beautiful designs and colors. From the East to the West the “art de la table” becomes a necessity and a luxury which today encompasses object for further research and inspiration.
PRECIOUS SMALL: Bejeweled snuff boxes narrate daily life activities, social show off and even religious beliefs. Today these small objects are misunderstood as less important works of art and often are not given enough space in Museum displays. Our investigation has uncovered thousands of these precious decorative arts unearthing their mechanics, workshops and many more secrets.
THE VALUE OF TIME: Pocket Watches and Table Clocks for the Turkish Market arrive from France and later Switzerland to facilitate daily schedules. As with most of these precious smaller items, they are made after the commission of an important byer. From the 16th century the pocket watch Turkish dials pronounce their sponsor, while the large table clocks reflect the heavy European Baroque style of architecture and decoration. Remnants of time these watches are favored by collectors.
The Exhibition and Catalogue will be prepared with the instrumental participation of
Collectors: Approximately 40 collectors
Museums: Approximately 14 Museums and organizations
Academics: More than 16 esteemed Greek academics including historians, art historians, archaeologists, and museum curators will collaborate for this historic project.
The exhibition will be accompanied by the following
School Educational Programs (January – May)
From kindergarten to high school level, our curators have organized the most fun, educational and unique hands on programs to follow the arts and crafts as well as unique stories of this exhibition.
Guided Tours & Lectures (January – July)
Curated tours for all ages will present the making and use of applied arts in a period of great European turmoil. From gunsmithing to precious wedding jewelry, tours will follow the making of art until today. Additionally, Greek historians and collectors will share their knowledge on the history and history of art preceding and following the Greek revolution.
Traditional Art & Workshop Seminars (January to June)
The Museum invites renowned Greek and international artists to introduce arts and crafts related to the artifacts of the exhibition. The seminars cover a rich choice of themes and give the participants stimuli, encouraging them to experiment and re make. The themes that are offered vary and include the use of many different materials and applications, for example jewelry making from recyclable or organic materials to getting to know the Japanese art of Origami.
Greek Designers Pop-Up Shows (February to June)
The ILJMuseum will present Pop-Up Shows by contemporary Greek designers in the decorative arts and fashion industry. The promotion of new production follows one the museum’s most highlighted goals. Our objective is that “Form Follows Function: 200+200” exhibits will actuate as the starting point for new inspiration for the makers of today.
Educational Excursions to Greek Museum and Private Collections, Folkloric and Ethnological Museums, in Athens and the Provinces (March to July)
A number of optional educational tours off site will be offered to Greek and foreign visitors. Our purpose is to share the wealth of Greek collections in Private homes, foundations, folkloric and ethnographic Museums as part of the exhibition. One day and weekend trips will be announced shortly