caligula had anime eyes
wait romans painted their marble sculptures
it looks like a cheap theme park ride mascot
here’s a statue of Augustus
and here’s a reproduction of the statue with the colors restored
i honestly think that what we consider the height of sculpture in all of Western civilization being essentially the leftover templates of gaudy pieces of theme park shit to be evidence of the potential merit of found art
"I tried coloring it and then I ruined it"
And you know what the funniest part is? The paint didn’t just wear off over time. A bunch of asshole British historians back in the Victorian era actually went around scrubbing the remaining paint off of Greek and Roman statues - often destroying the fine details of the carving in the process - because the bright colours didn’t fit the dignified image they wished to present of the the cultures they claimed to be heirs to. This process also removed visible evidence of the fact that at least some of the statues thus stripped of paint had originally depicted non-white individuals.
Whenever you look at a Roman statue with a bare marble face, you’re looking at the face of imperialist historical revisionism.
(The missing noses on a lot of Egyptian statues are a similar deal. It’s not that the ancient Egyptians made statues with strangely fragile noses. Many Victorian archaeologists had a habit of chipping the noses off of the statues they brought back, then claiming that they’d found them that way - because with the noses intact, it was too obvious that the statues were meant to depict individuals of black African descent.)
There’s a lot of good academic discussion about chromophobia in modern Western aesthetics and how it links to colonialism.
a couple of general points:
1) the reason the reconstructions here look like “the leftover templates of gaudy pieces of theme park shit” is because they’re reconstructions. this is not actually what these statues looked like, and in my opinion they do roman art a massive disservice. the reason they look so “gaudy” (which is actually the exact same colonial attitude that led directly to the literal whitewashing of graeco-roman art, nice, very nice) is because the colours have been applied flat, with no shading or blending to give the impression of shadow. looking at contemporary roman portraiture, it’s clear that they did actually have quite a sophisticated grasp of shading and colouring, and to imagine that they would just suddenly forget how to do the dark bits when they were painting on stone is ludicrous. for context, this is a portrait of paquius proculo, a fresco from pompeii, dating from around 20-30AD, ten years earlier than that bust of caligula:
(also of interest in this regard are the fayum mummy portraits, dating from the second century AD; again, although they are of varying quality, the best of them demonstrate a clear understanding of shading. for example:
and, to be honest: do you really think a civilisation that produced this
just, what, didn’t get paint? these reconstructions are laughable, not because they’re colourful but because they’re presenting an incredibly sophisticated culture as unable to understand simple artistic concepts; something that i think itself contributes to the idea of colourfully painted statues being ‘silly’ and ‘gaudy’, which again is an incredibly colonially-influenced idea.
2) the reason graeco-roman statues are often missing the noses is because most excavated statues are generally missing the noses. they are fragile. the head of a statue is basically a football with details; the nose is the only protruding part and is comparatively narrow and thin (as opposed to, say, an arm or leg, which takes more force to break off but is still very much detachable, c.f the venus di milo) and is very, very easy to break off. although i am absolutely the last person to deny the racism that has been present in classics, the noses thing is really not a great example.