Cleveland Museum of Art opens 'Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome' exhibit Sunday

Unique assemblage of ancient art from Sicily

CLEVELAND - It was expected to travel from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to its only other stop - the Cleveland Museum of Art. But earlier this year, the Sicilian government began making inquiries about "loan fees" that were not part of the original agreement. It nearly derailed the show. But in the end, it was the offer to loan Sicily several masterworks from Cleveland's collection that saved the day.

David Franklin, Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art, said offering to loan Sicily CMA's Caravaggio - Crucifixion of Saint Andrew - "broke the log jam."

"It's really an appropriate gesture as Caravaggio had worked in Sicily late in his life, and it's a miraculous painting. So one Caravaggio for one antiquities show - I believe we still did extremely well to be honest," Franklin said.

The breathtaking centerpiece of the Sicily show is The Mozia Charioteer (470-460 BC.), widely considered to be one of the finest surviving examples of Greek sculpture.

"It makes you think of Michelangelo, Rodin, but it is absolutely forceful, strong and unforgettable," Franklin said.

A gold libation bowl, the Phiale Mesomphalos (325-275 BC.) glows from its case, one of only five comparable objects in the world. The exhibition is rich in history, scholarship and stunning objects so ancient, it makes you wonder how in the world they ever survived.

Coinciding with the opening of the Sicily exhibition is 'Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo.' For the first time, the Cleveland museum's bronze Apollo, believed to be an original of master Greek sculptor Praxiteles, is seen alongside two of the world's best preserved Roman marble copies, said Michael Bennett. Bennett, the museum's curator of Greek and Roman art, put together both the Apollo and Sicily exhibitions.

And by the way, our Apollo is no longer "the lizard slayer." A closer look has revealed that this Apollo is "the python slayer." It's a significant insight into our Apollo, once abandoned and in pieces on an East German estate and now standing next to works inspired by it.

You can find more information about the Cleveland Museum of Art exhibits and hours here: http://www.clevelandart.org

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