Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd–7th Century AD

Head of Aphrodite, 1st Century, Athens, National Archaeological Museum
Head of Aphrodite, 1st Century, Athens, National Archaeological Museum

The exhibition Transition to Christianity: Art of Late Antiquity, 3rd–7th Century AD focuses on the continuation of the antique past even as it faded into memory; the rise of a Christian empire in the east, even as the western Roman empire disintegrated; the disruption of old ways of life even as new patterns and social systems were consolidated. The exhibition begins its query in the 3rd century, when the Roman Empire began to show the strain of political and economic crises, and extends to the 7th century, when the final victory of the Byzantine emperor Herakleios (reigned 610–41) over the Persians was eclipsed by the Arab invasion. The exhibition reveals the rich diversity that was Late Antiquity, its religious art (Christian, pagan, and Jewish), civic statuary, and architectural and mural decorations from both private homes and public meeting places, as well as cult objects and luxury items with imagery drawn from mythological and biblical stories. The eastern Mediterranean’s rich and thriving culture is expressed in works of art and objects that reflect both the concerns and the joys of its citizens. Transition to Christianity shows us what the people of Late Antiquity valued, whom they held in esteem, how they worshiped, and the ways in which they perceived death. Most importantly, however, the exhibition illustrates the rise of Christianity and its continuity with its past, as Christians borrowed imagery and beliefs from their cultural environment as they transformed them forever. 

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Contact information

Location
Onassis Cultural Center
Address
Onassis Cultural Center
645 Fifth Avenue
Midtown
New York
United States
Website
www.onassisusa.org

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