Ancient Greeks Lecture Series

Join Dr Anne Mackay, formerly Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Auckland now holding an Honorary Research Fellowship in Classics at that University, as she explores the iconography of the Exekias Amphora, the famous neck-amphora signed by Exekias, the potter/painter, in around 530 BC, and how iconography can unlock a whole new world of meaning.

Dr Anne Mackay, formerly Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Auckland
Ancient Greeks Lecture Series

There's more to a Greek Vase than meets the Eye

Dr Anne Mackay, formerly Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Auckland

SUN 18 SEP, 2PM
AUDITORIUM, LEVEL 2
PAY WHAT YOU CAN, BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL

When we look at a painted ancient Greek vase, it is generally easy to recognise warriors fighting, or athletes competing; sometimes names are inscribed, or iconographic elements are included, pointing towards a specific event that is most often drawn from myth. But this is not the whole picture, so to speak. The painters of Greek pots were able to take time over their paintings, and so it is not surprising that many scenes contain a lot of meaningful detail, which on close examination can provoke the viewer to look beyond the mere surface identification in order to perceive deeper layers of meaning, such as we expect from the truly creative art of any age in any artistic medium.

This comprehensively illustrated lecture will take as a starting point the famous neck-amphora signed by Exekias, the potter/painter, in around 530 BC, and will explore how with his superb artistry he directed his contemporary viewers towards a nuanced interpretation of the broader context and implications of the event depicted. Although he painted well before the great fifth Century tragic dramatists, his works evoke the tragic potentiality that underlies so many mythological stories, and juxtapose awareness of how it is to be a loser alongside celebration of a winner.

The lecture focus will then shift to other vases in the exhibition and beyond, to demonstrate how a close analysis of an ancient Greek vase-painting will reward the viewer with insights into the ancient Greek world-view and its values that are not accessible at a casual glance.

About Dr Anne Mackay

Throughout a long academic career in several countries, Dr Anne Mackay’s primary research field has been ancient Greek vase-painting. In 2010 she published a definitive monograph on the innovative painter-potter Exekias, who worked in Athens in the black-figure technique in the second half of the sixth century BC. Two edited volumes attest to her additional interest in oral theory, an area in which she has contributed comparisons between narrative techniques of early (oral-derived) epic and the black-figure painting tradition of archaic Greece. She was Professor of Classics at the (then) University of Natal in Durban, South Africa, before her appointment in 2001 as Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Auckland. She recently retired, and now holds an Honorary Research Fellowship in Classics at that University.

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Vase - The Exekias Amphora, 540 BC -530 BC, British Museum, 1836,0224.127