Museum Review Essay: Pergamon Altar
The Pergamon Altar
Museum Review Essay: Introduction
The virtual tour of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin is filled with magnificent historical pieces that represent Ancient Greece’s Hellenistic era and much more. The Pergamon Altar, The Market Gate of Miletus, The Ishtar Gate were all monumental works of art; however, the one that drew my attention most was the piece that gave the museum its’ name; The Pergamon Altar. The Pergamon Altar was built in 2nd Century BC, in Pergamon which is now in Turkey’s territory. It took six years to unearth all the bits of this Altar, and after the excavation, the German government brought this piece to Berlin with Turkey’s permission. This piece was so outstanding and grand; the government built a new museum for it. Archeologists and art historians worked together at the reconstruction and gifted the world with the Pergamon Altar. The Altar depicts one of the most significant wars of Greek mythology, the battle between Gods and Goddesses of Olympia and Titans. Two leading center figures that are sculpted are Zeus and Athena, but the Altar is carved with an abundance of details that you find every time you examine it.
The reason why I chose this artwork was mainly because of these two pieces. Zeus and Athena stand ever so mightily opposite each other, fighting multiple titans. It’s archaism and classiness blend harmoniously with Hellenistic art’s preeminent characteristic: the deep adoration for the human body. Its’ nobility comes from the great love of the artists that is engraved in every curve, muscle, carve, and expression. You can see the drama of the war just by looking at the Gods and Titans’ faces. This piece holds so much power that it still mesmerizes its beholder after thousands of years. Even though we cannot see Athena’s face, control spreads from her body, from the way her hand grasps Alcyoneus’ and his mother Gaia’s hair. Even if it is reversed, Athena’s shield Aegis is still the center of this work, and it is crafted with such attention that everything seems to revolve around it.
The piece manages to express victory through postures while conveying drama through faces. In Gaia’s face, you can feel the complete terror and helplessness, but when you lay your eyes, Athena, calmness fills your soul. In his side, Zeus is also fighting with numerous giants, surrounded by his symbolic animals, such as the eagle. A torch is stuck at a giant right beneath Zeus’ knee, and it is written on the informative text that Greeks used lights as a symbol of Zeus’ lightning. Zeus is the most significant metaphor of heroism as the king of all Olympians, and in my opinion, this piece conveys it most compellingly. Zeus’ side portrays a heroic side of the war while Athena’s portray balance.
As you walk up the stairs, you meet with another feeling of the same fight; agony. Figures are swelling all over the stairs, resting knees, with their spines arched from the weight of the war, agony prominent in their faces. I was almost uncomfortable when I studied them but also mesmerized how brilliantly these three aspects of war were depicted in this piece. It is an excellent reflection of authority and who pays the price of the battles.
Museum Review Essay: Conclusion
After all, the concepts that the Pergamon Altar represents are still relevant to this day, and the way it was conveyed requires such talented craftsmanship that one can feel the empowerment in their veins just by a virtual tour. These two features are what make the Pergamon Altar timeless and monumental. In other words, one can readily conclude that our future generations are as well likely to appreciate the outcomes of intellectuality and the complexity of human beings.