Art and Architecture, Author Events, History, Literature

Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism—talk and book signing at the Corcoran Gallery

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In the spring of 1900, British archaeologist Arthur Evans began an unprecedented project to reconstruct the palace of Knossos on Crete, but instead, as Cathy Gere demonstrates in her new book, Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, created a complex of concrete buildings on the site owing at least as much to modernist architecture as to Bronze Age remains. As Tom Holland of the Times Literary Supplement writes: “the fabulously ancient palace of Knossos enjoys, as Gere points out in her arresting first sentence, ‘the dubious distinction of being one of the first reinforced concrete buildings ever erected on the island.'”
Gere shows how Evans’ idiosyncratic reconstruction of the palace of Knossos was nevertheless successful at bringing ancient Greek legends to life and sparking the imaginations of a host of twentieth century artists and intellectuals. Influencing the likes of Joyce, Picasso, and Sigmund Freud to name a few, Evans’ often fanciful vision of Cretan civilization, promulgated through the work of visionaries like these, had a profoundly transformative effect on the way Western culture viewed its past, as well as its future.
On Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 7:00 PM Gere is scheduled to make an appearance at Washington DC’s Corcoran Gallery of Art to deliver a talk on the subject, examining how—based on Evans’ work—European modernism reimagined ancient Cretean civilization in its own image, employing its creative reinterpretation of Cretan society as an early blueprint for twentieth century movements as disparate as fascism, pacifism, feminism and psychoanalysis.
For more about the book see Tom Holland’s recent review for the TLS and another review from the May 14 edition of the Economist. For more details on Gere’s lecture, navigate to Corcoran Gallery website.