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Celebrating the first Olympics

Utah Museum of Fine Arts will put Getty collection on display Feb. 1

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During the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, ignore the adage "beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

A new exhibition, "Athletes in Antiquity: Works from the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum," at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, will not be just for those visiting from out of town. The exhibit, which features Greek dining and drinking vessels, jewelry, gems, athletic equipment and statues, will be a must-see for anyone wanting to experience what was "aesthetically hot" during the early days of the first Olympics.

"We are delighted to display such an exceptional exhibition of Greek antiquities," said David L. Dee, interim director of the UMFA.

The pieces in the show span a time-frame from the late sixth century B.C. to the end of the first century A.D.

One of the exhibit's highlights is one of the Getty's most important bronze sculptures, the "Statue of a Victorious Youth" (Greek, bronze with copper inlays, 300-100 B.C.). The piece depicts a naked youth crowning himself with a wreath. Found in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Italy, the statue is one of the few life-size Greek bronzes to have survived from antiquity. The Romans are believed to have carried the work off from its original location sometime during the first century B.C. or A.D.

Other highlights include terra cotta vases awarded as prizes during the early Games in Athens and several engraved scarabs, including a carnelian gem attributed to Epimenes (500 B.C.). This exquisite, well-preserved object depicts a youth leaning over to adjust the heel strap of his sandal while supporting himself on a staff. The carver's skill in portraying the muscular youth in three-quarter view sets this gem apart.

Marion True, assistant director of Villa Planning and Curator of Antiquities at the Getty, said the museum is pleased to participate in the show. "We hope that the viewers of the exhibition will appreciate the value that ancient Greek society placed on athletics and how their values affected not only the return of the Games in modern times but the spirit of fairness and neutrality in which they take place."

"Athletes in Antiquity: Works from the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum" runs Feb. 1-April 15. Admission will be free. For more information, call the museum at 581-7049.

Museum hours

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts will be open every day from noon-5 p.m. except for the following:

Monday, Feb. 4, 11, 25 from 1-5 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 26 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 12, 19, 26 from 1-5 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 1-5 p.m.

(Closed Feb. 6, 8 and 18.)

E-mail: gag@desnews.com