The exhibition “Athens, 180 years the capital of Greece” marks the re-opening of the historical building of the Municipal Gallery, at Peiraios str. 51 in Athens. The year 2014 marks 180 years since the “once prettier city of the world”, as characterized by Strabo, became the capital of the newly established Greek State (1834) and 100 years since the founding of the Municipal Art Gallery of Athens.
The exhibition includes more than a hundred paintings, engravings, and sculptures from the collections of the Municipal Gallery, inviting the public in a dialogue between present and past.
“The exhibition narrates via the artists’ expressive language and wealth of perspectives, drawing inspiration from city’s history, monuments, picturesque neighborhoods, charming neoclassical buildings, Athenian sunlight, chromatic spots game, everyday civic life, that once lived and loved, that still live and love” says Kalli Petrochilou, curator to the Municipal Gallery.
As Yiannis Kolokotronis (Associate Professor in History of Art / Democritus University of Thrace – Dpt Of Architectural Engineering) points out: “The selective re-exhibition of works of painting, engraving, drawings and sculptures, which belong to Municipal Gallery’s collection is an interesting recording of the history of Greek modern art. Equally important is the re-opening of the two-storey neoclassical building of the Old Municipal Gallery (erected between 1872 and 1874) on Koumoundourou Square. A great architectural work by Panagiotis Kalkos (1810-1878) originally used as Municipal Nursery (1875-1977), was established as one of Athens’s most important exhibition spaces between 1982 and 2010 and became a point of reference for the beginning of numerous contemporary Greek artists, providing them with the opportunity to present their work and to participate in numerous group exhibitions.
“In precisely this period of political change (“Metapolitefsi”) in the country, Greek art shifted its course. New circumstances created new prospects for the artists who gradually turned from description to experimentation and interpretation. The explosive artistic activity mobilized the public interest especially and stressed the need to promote contemporary culture as a continuation of Greece’s cultural heritage.
“The municipal authorities’ decision to deliver and promote the artistic wealth of their collections to the public, led to the creation of a new cultural “dipylon” for the Athenians. The New Municipal Gallery on Leonidou and Myllerou Street (Metaxourgeio), yet another renovated great neoclassical building designed by Christian Hansen, only ten minutes’ walk away from the renovated Old Municipal Gallery. The public owes to acknowledge that the combination of Athens’s neoclassical architecture with the visual arts opens new roads towards the reevaluation of past artists work and the acquaintance with the work of contemporary ones”.
The exhibition is organised in five sections: (1) City Hall Decoration (2) Athenian Landscape Painting – Archaeological sites (3) Everyday Life – History (4) Physiognomies and (5) Sculpture.
Municipal Gallery, Peiraios str. 51, Athens, Koumoundourou square. Tel.: 210 3231841.
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 10.00-19.00. Sunday: 10.00-15.00.