Museum Home Research and Conservation Artists and Actors: Iconography and Performance in Ancient Greece

Dates: Friday and Saturday, September 24 and 25, 2010
Time: 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. each day; reception to follow on Friday until 6:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition The Art of Ancient Greek Theater and the staging of Sophocles' Elektra at the Getty Villa, this symposium considers the artistic evidence for dramatic performance in ancient Athens as well as Greek and local settlements in southern Italy.

Drawing on objects featured in the exhibition, distinguished international scholars investigate the historical context for theatrical performance and its relation to the creation of some of the most vivid art from the ancient world. Choral, tragic and comic performance inspired a diverse and iconographically complex reaction from vase-painters in Athens and south Italy from the middle of the sixth century to the third quarter of the fourth century B.C. At the same time, vases and marble reliefs fashioned as devotional markers of distinction provide a view into the social context of performance in antiquity, while the production of bronze and terracotta masks and statuettes offers unique insights into the spread of comedy from Greece to Rome.

Topics include the analysis of theatrical iconography; the relationship between workshops that produced theater-related imagery in Athens and southern Italy; the dissemination of vases from Athens and the Greek colonies to Italic settlements, where most have been found; ancient methods of staging and the depiction of props; and the nature of masked acting. The symposium concludes with a conversation about the Getty Villa's production of Sophocles' Elektra with director Carey Perloff of the American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco, and Helene Foley of Barnard College, Columbia University, New York.

Confirmed speakers:

  • T.H. Carpenter, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
  • Helene Foley, Barnard College, Columbia University, New York
  • Hans R. Goette, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin, and the University of Giessen, Germany
  • Barbara Kowalzig, Royal Holloway, University of London, England
  • Ralf Krumeich, Institute for Art History and Archaeology, University of Bonn, Germany
  • François Lissarrague, Centre Louis Gernet, Paris, France
  • C.W. Marshall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Carey Perloff, American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco
  • Martin Revermann, University of Toronto, Canada
  • Jeffrey Rusten, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • H. Alan Shapiro, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Oliver Taplin, Magdalen College, Oxford, England
  • Michael Walton, University of Hull, England


Schedule as of August 26, 2010 (31 KB)

For information, please e-mail

Related Event

Sophocles' Elektra
Date: Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, September 9-October 2
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, The Barbara and Laurence Fleischman Theater

One of the poet Sophocles' most elegant and haunting works, Elektra celebrates the human desire for justice and the costs exacted upon those who seek it. The world-premiere of this newly-commissioned translation by celebrated playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker is directed by Carey Perloff, artistic director of San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater. Learn more.

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Red-figured neck amphora