Modern Antiquity by Lee Stanton

This photo from the Palazzo Reale on my most recent buying trip in Italy is a good example of the Juxtaposition of 20th-century works with ancient objects and bright color with the absence of color. The contrast reinvents and transforms the artistic legacy of antiquity.

Modern Antiquity, a great book available at the Getty Museum Bookstore, draws unprecedented attention not only to the aesthetic impact ancient art had on twentieth-century artists but also to the ways in which these artists shaped our contemporary experience of antiquity. The result is a new and more nuanced appreciation of the complex role the classical past has played in western modernity.

Picasso, de Chirico, Léger, and Picabia all looked to classical antiquity to feed their imaginations and yet remained radical figures in early 20th-century art. These avant-garde artists had no wish to return to a lost past; the antiquity they knew, primarily in museums, was for them a vital element of contemporary life. Their supporters believed that profound affinities existed between ancient and modern works.

This book explores what the eyes and minds of these artists found so arresting in the arts of antiquity and how they made those arts modern.