Warhol Acolyte Dresses Riace Bronzes in Thong and Boa
Photographer and Andy Warhol protégé Gerald Bruneau is in trouble for photographing the fragile Riace bronzes with pink boas, leopard-print thongs, and white veils for a photo shoot. Last year, the Museo Nazionale della Magna Grecia in Reggio Calabria—where the 5th century BCE bronze statues are kept in a climate-controlled room on earthquake-proof pedestals—invited Bruneau to photograph the two life-size sculptures of Greek warriors as part of a campaign to promote them internationally.
“He showed me a shot of the statue with white tulle behind and it was very nice,” the chief of the local archaeological authority, Simonetta Bonomi, told Italy’s Dagospia newspaper, as reported by the Independent. “Then, unbeknownst to me, he took the other images, which are terrible. When the stewards noticed, they intervened and stopped him, but obviously he had already managed to take some shots.”
Now those photos have leaked just as the sculptures are the focus of renewed scrutiny over plans to loan them out to other museums. The extremely fragile sculptures, which were discovered by a snorkeler off the coast of Riace in 1972 and unveiled to the public in 1981 with blockbuster showings in Rome and Florence, were recently the subject of a three-year restoration project and have been back on view in their full upright positions in Reggio Calabria only since 2013. The two warrior statues are the most majestic remaining artifacts from the Greek colony of Magna Graecia, which thrived on the tip of the Italian peninsula between the 8th and 3rd centuries BCE.
Due to the statues’ fragility, Italian authorities are understandably upset that Bruneau draped the bronzes in a thong and veil, to say nothing of the resulting images’ questionable taste. After getting his start as a photographer during the 1970s in Warhol’s Factory, Bruneau moved to Italy in the 1980s, where he has been working as a freelance photographer ever since.
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