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Jacques-Louis David, Erasistratus Discovers the Cause of Antiochus' Disease, 1774, Oil on canvas. École des Beaux-Arts, Paris

Jacques-Louis David, Erasistratus Discovers the Cause of Antiochus’ Disease, 1774, Oil on canvas. École des Beaux-Arts, Paris


As a child, I remember that going to the museum was an event. On a particularly memorable trip in middle school, my class took a field trip to the Portland Art Museum to look at Native American artwork and artifacts found in the Pacific Northwest. Never have I spent a day in a classroom and learned nearly as much than that day in the museum. There’s just something about seeing the pieces, being up close and personal with these real life artifacts that inspires you, and makes you want to learn more.

That’s one of the reasons Portland Pedal Power is telling everyone about this new exhibit that is coming to the Portland Art Museum, entitled Gods and Heroes. Gods and Heroes will feature artwork exploring the mythos of humanity, from the Epics of Homer to Biblical Texts dating back to Rome.

The Gods and Heroes exhibit will include beautiful masterpieces which have traveled across the ocean from Paris, specifically the École des Beaux-Arts, or the School of Fine Arts for those non-French reader out there. This exhibit will feature nearly 140 painting, sculptures, and even written works that can be dated all the way back to Ancient Rome and Greece.

The most dynamic feature of this exhibit will show just how much the arts have changed throughout history, how anatomy, facial expressions, and perspective played a deeper and deeper role as time rolled by. You will see works that served as models for early students in the arts, such as drawings by Raphael Sanzio da Urbino (or The Raphael, for short) and prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn.

unnamedOf course, you don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate Gods and Heroes, either! The exhibit will examine themes from our own culture,  such as courage, sacrifice, and death. You’ll see  among the featured works examinations of what it is to be a hero, how we face our own mortality. You will see artist renditions of the Gods, seen as all powerful manifestations,  but just as deeply flawed as any human. Despite being centuries old, you will see artwork struggling with many of the same issues – moral, ethical, philosophical – that we struggle with even today.

Ancient History? Of course, but just as relevant today as it was in its inception? Yes.

Interested in checking out these exquisite works of art? Check out the Portland Art Museum’s website to learn more. The Members Preview Day opens on June 12th, and the exhibit opens to the public on the 13th. Be sure to check your schedule and get yourself to PAM!