Bronzo B 01, 2018
Lambda print

Bronzo A 01, 2018
Lambda Print

Bronzo B 02, 2018
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Bronzo A 02, 2018
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Bronzo A 03, 2018
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Bronzo B 03, 2018
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Bronzo A 04, 2018
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Bronzo A 05, 2018
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Bronzo B 01, 2018
Exhibition Marca Museum, Italy

Below the surface
On the morning of August 16 1972, Stefano Mariottini, a chemist from Rome on a scuba-diving holiday, was gliding through the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea a few hundred yards o the coast of Calabria when he was startled to see, thrusting from the sea floor below him, what looked like a human arm. As signor Mariottini swam closer, he feared at first that he might have come upon the remains of a corpse. What was cautiously dredged from beneath the calm blue surface and borne ashore to the village of Riace, proved to be a pair of statues, larger than life-size, nude and flamboyantly male, two of the finest examples of mid-fifth-century-BC Greek sculpture to be found anywhere in the world. Wrapped in the soft Calabrian sand, the Riace bronzes had slept on the seabed for 2,500 years. Fighting o central government plans to move the bronzes to a major national museum, the town of Reggio Calabria stubbornly claimed ownership and insisted their statues should remain where they belonged. A lengthy process of restoration work began. In due course, the bronzes were allowed out on loan to Florence and Rome. They were permitted a triumphant tour of Italy; they were celebrated on postage stamps. Safely back in the Museo Nazionale in Reggio Calabria, they were placed on permanent exhibition. And the restoration went on; removal of encrustation and the corrosive eects of the seawater, damage of various sorts, all needed skilled attention to preserve the statues. And 40 years later, the work remains on. Archeologists and historians have still not established their identity. Military heroes, say some; others suggest they could be athletes. Or possibly characters in a play by Euripides. Another theory places them as part of a group from Delphi. There is, too, the mystery of how they came to be lying on the seabed o the Calabrian coast. Here, most experts are roughly in agreement: en route from Greece to Rome, caught in a storm, the statues were thrown from a ship to lighten its load – or possibly the rough seas dislodged them from their place on deck. No wreck was found on the seabed. According to the most recent studies, Bronze A (called "the youth") might represent Tydeus, a fierce hero from Aetolia, son of the god Ares. Bronze B ("the elder") could represent Amphiaraus, a warrior prophet. Marvels of the sculptors' art, the pair have an intense humanity, very few Greek bronze statues have arrived to the present day intact; among them, these bronzes are considered the most beautiful.
Lee Langley