Zeus


This is a decorative statue conjuring up the spirit of Minoan antiquity. The cult of the bull flourished on the Island of Crete, and there is rich evidence of this in the surviving paintings and statues, including the famous rhytons made with a polylith and shaped as a bull’s head. According to myth, Zeus, who metamorphosed into a bull and abducted Europa, founded the dynasty that was to rule Crete. The statue on view is not a copy but a liberal stylistic exercise engaging the very spirit of the archaic civilization with its animation of nature and pan-aesthetism. The sculpture is distinguished from its ancient counterparts by a subtle interplay of references and the combination of realistic forms and impressionistic lightness of modelling with an impressive display of the materials used and their texture – roughened and smoothed, “aged” and shining with a fresh polish. Light shiftings of the forms and slants from the central axis are combined, in a similarly playful and relaxed fashion, with a nearly ornamental symmetry of the elements of the bull’s crude face. At the same time the visage with a broad nose, dilated nostrils, almond-shaped eyes under massive brows, and fleshy folds across the neck highlight the primitive, raw life of a beast whose regal grandeur looks menacing.

 

Brief annotations to the image

ZEUS is the chief deity from the ancient Greek pantheon, the god of sky, thunder and lightning who oversaw the universe, the progenitor of many gods, an amorous and artful seducer capable of assuming different appearances. For instance, the appearance of a bull. A myth – the story of the abduction of  Europa by Zeus in the form of a bull, who brought her to Crete, where she bore him three children, including Minos, the future legendary ruler of the island – tightly links this zoomorphic image of Zeus with the history and art of the celebrated island.