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One of the most ambitious exhibitions ever devoted to Homer opens in Lens
A man walks among art pieces displayed at the Louvre Lens museum during the press visit of the exhibition about Greek poet Homer, in Lens northen France on March 26, 2019. The exhibition will run from March 27, 2019 and July 22, 2019. Denis Charlet / AFP.

LENS.- The Musée du Louvre-Lens is organising one of the most ambitious exhibitions ever devoted to Homer, the “prince of poets”, author of two celebrated epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey, that have been an integral part of Western societies since antiquity. It will explore the origins of Homer’s fascinating influence on Western artists and culture down the centuries, and shed light on its many mysteries.

Achilles, Hector, Ulysses: these names continue to resonate in people’s minds today. From antiquity to the Renaissance, artists borrowed from Homer’s stories a multitude of fundamental subjects that have shaped the history of art. What is the reason for this uninterrupted success?

This exhibition of international scope sets out to explore how artists drew on Homer and the heroes of The Iliad and The Odyssey. It also provides an opportunity to examine numerous questions: Did Homer exist? Was he the sole author of these monumental works? Where and when did he live?

“Homeromania” has led the Homeric poems to be used repeatedly as sources of inspiration. The exhibition will explore the various aspects of this phenomenon and analyse its diverse manifestations in language, literature, the sciences, the arts, morality and life.

Through almost 250 works, dating from antiquity to the present day, the exhibition offers an unprecedented immersion in the riches of the Homeric world. It presents a selection of works as dense and varied as Homer’s influence, ranging from paintings and objects from ancient Greece, sculptures and casts, and tapestries to paintings by Rubens, Antoine Watteau, Gustave Moreau, André Derain, Marc Chagall and Cy Twombly.

An exploration of the world of Homer
After a prelude devoted to the gods of Olympus, visitors begin their visit by discovering the “prince of poets” and above all the mysteries that surround him. They then begin their visit in the company of the principal heroes of The Iliad and The Odyssey: archaeological objects and modern works evoke the way in which these seminal sagas, reconsidered, reinterpreted and updated so many times, have been captured in images over time.

The exhibition includes a detour by way of other poems from the Epic Cycle that were lost over the course of time and which contained narratives recounting the most famous scenes of the Trojan War, including the Trojan horse, the death of Achilles and the abduction of Helen. These episodes reveal the full extent of the ancient epic literature and the miraculous nature of the conservation of Homer’s work.

The adventure ends with an exploration of the phenomena of “Homeromania” that has marked the science of archaeology and inspired works and behaviour, based on the extensive imitation of Homer that even extended to everyday life.

Curators: Alain Jaubert, writer and filmmaker, Alexandre Farnoux, director of the École Française d’Athènes, Vincent Pomarède, assistant general administrator of the Louvre, Luc Piralla, assistant director of the Musée du Louvre-Lens, assisted by Alexandre Estaquet-Legrand.

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