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Ancient Myths in the Making of Culture


Malgorzata Budzowska and Jadwiga Czerwinska

The reception of Mediterranean Antiquity heritage is one of the dominant research areas in contemporary classical studies. This issue has constituted the scope of the conference Reception of Ancient Myths in Ancient, Modern and Postmodern Culture, which took place at the University of Łódź (Poland) in November 2013. The volume consists of the selected articles based on the conference papers. They are divided into the main chapters: Literature, Visual and Performing Arts and Philosophy as well as Anthropology. The authors consider different methods of reception of ancient myths focusing on various cultural phenomena: literature, fine arts, theatre, cinema and pop culture.
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An Empty Myth – the Aesthetic Reception of Antiquity in Contemporary Art


The art of Igor Mitoraj, Anne and Patrick Poirier, Muriel Castanis, and Ian Hamilton Finley refers to Greek antiquity, particularly to myths. Therefore, we could expect it to be a good example of myth reception in contemporary art. However, we must ask: is a myth and its meaning the most important part of their art? Scott Lash, sociologist, distinguished three types of modernist reflexivity: cognitive, aesthetic, and hermeneutic. We can try to use his distinction to analyse the art of the aforementioned artists. If we assume (as S. Lash) that an aesthetic reflexivity is characterized by: deconstruction (as a model of speech), an allegory (as a model of narrative), mimesis (as a model of access to truth), a signifier (as a privileged semiotic element), then we can see that the references to myth in contemporary neo-classicism manifest largely in this type of reflexivity. Classic form is an indication of prevailing aestheticization. Form without interioris an allegory of our lack of access to the depth of ancient tradition. It is a post-classical (as well as a post-traditional and post- modern), aesthetic experience that does not stem from a cognitive or hermeneutic approach, but from sensory perception.

If an artist refers to antiquity by referring to a myth or by the form of his work, in all probability he will be called a neo-classical artist. By the end of the 80s, Charles Jencks labeled a group of American figurative painters who were modernizing antique myths, as neo-classics (Jencks...

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