A professor at the University of Iowa says that cherishing “white marble” in classical art actually contributes to “white supremacist ideas today.”
Sarah Bond, an assistant professor in Classics at the university, has penned an article at Hyperallergic, which describes itself as “a forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today” and boasts about 70,000 subscribers.
Bond argues that “many of the statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi created in the ancient Western world were in fact painted” and “white marble” people are seeing today in classical artwork was actually supposed to be colored, Campus Reform reported.
The professor therefore suggests that “the equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe” and is in fact “a dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today.”
She continued the article, adding that “most museums and art history textbooks contain a predominantly neon white display of skin tone” that “has an impact on the way we view the antique world.”
As an example, Bond notes that “the assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region” which gives “ammunition for white supremacists today, including groups like Identity Europa, who use classical statuary as a symbol of white male superiority.”
“It may have taken just one classical statue to influence the false construction of race, but it will take many of us to tear it down,” Bond finished her article. “We have the power to return color to the ancient world, but it has to start with us.”
After Campus Reform approached the Iowa university professor, she replied claiming white unpainted marble is “an 18th century construct.”
“The point is simply that Greeks and Romans actually added color to their art and thus white marble was often the canvas rather than the finished product.
“The exalting of white (and unpainted) marble was then an 18th century construct of beauty rather than representative of the classical view. In any case, let me know if you would like to discuss this issue further.”