The gradual opening of the renovated National Gallery-Alexandros Soutsos Museum is continuing with the addition of the temporary exhibitions gallery in the basement, covering 2000 square metres in total, which will host its first exhibition focusing on the portrait collection at the Louvre from November 30.
Entitled "Seeking immortality: The Art of the Portrait in the Collections of the Louvre" this will examine the evolution of art to depict the human face from early antiquity through centuries of art history, from the masks of the pharaohs and the Fayum portraits of Roman-era Egypt, as well as the sculpture of antiquity and progressing through the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and Baroque periods, as illustrated by 100 artifacts on loan from the Louvre's collection.
The temporary exhibition will be split into 13 thematic sections that focus on the social significance of the portrait in each era, rather than chronological order. The paintings and sculptures exhibited will also feature the valuable miniatures of the French medieval era, or the portrait in portable form for personal use, the portraits of men and women with power and authority, from pharaohs to European kings, the work of great masters and famous paintings such as "Bonaparte au Pont d' Arcole" by Antoine-Jean Gros, or the landmark image of the French Revolution, "La Mort de Marat" by Jacques-Louis David.
In a press conference at the renovated building, National Gallery Director Marina Lambraki-Plaka said the new gallery is planning to host two major temporary exhibitions a year, as well as several smaller ones, while the first exhibition was also a way to pay homage to the larger Louvre museum and the traditional ties between Greece and France. It was based on an idea first proposed four years earlier, in collaboration between Lambraki-Plaka and the then Louvre Museum director Jean-Luc Martinez, she said.
As also confirmed by Deputy Contemporary Culture Minister Nikolas Giatromanolakis, the cooperation with French museums will continue in the future, while he noted that the ministry's involvement in the National Gallery will not end with the completion of its extension but was "only just beginning" as, following the renovation, it now also required the staff that would permit it to play its role in the 21st century.
Following the opening of the basement, the opening of the museum is set to continue with the full opening of the wing housing the permanent collection of Western European art, including the stolen and returned Picasso painting "Woman's Head".