Museum Home Past Exhibitions The Colors of Clay: Special Techniques in Athenian Vases

June 8–September 4, 2006 at the Getty Villa

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Browse reactions of other viewers below. These reactions were submitted to this site between June 21 and September 4, 2006. The site is now closed to new reactions. The opinions presented here may have been edited and do not reflect the opinions of the Getty.

Posted on 06/21/06 by M. Quiett, San Gabriel, CA
We enjoyed this wonderful exhibit (it was kalos!), but had one question—there are many examples of bowls, jars, vases, bottles, and cups from ancient Greece, but no "plates" as we would call them. Did they eat off of plates, or how was meat, for example, served? The wide kylix seems like it could have held food, but is always described as a wine-holding drinking vessel. If food was served in undecorated simple "plates," is this why there seem to be no examples in museums? Thank you.

Curator's note: There is one plate in the exhibition—the wonderful white ground-plate painted by Psiax in the first room of the exhibition, in the case dedicated to that artist. Click the "Exhibition" tab at the top of this page to see it, and click "White Ground" on the left side of the screen to read more about it.

Several other plates survive from antiquity, but they do not tend to be in special techniques (the focus of this exhibition), which were often used for particular, ceremonial functions. So-called "fish-plates" are often decorated with marine life and have a small hollow bowl in the center, either for sauce or bones. Most plates, however, were undecorated, and for that reason they are less often featured in museum displays—but they do exist.

Posted on 06/07/06 by B. Schiffler, Encinitas, CA
I enjoyed the details provided, but have one question regarding the clay slip used to create figures on the surface of the vases. Your information says there were three types of slip used; does that mean that black slip was used for a black figure and red slip for a red figure, or did the firing process change the color of the slip? I hope my question is clear. I have no formal knowledge of this art, but the idea of the changing colors of the clay interests me.

Curator's note: The three types of slip mentioned are black (which is the standard slip used for the figures in black-figure and for the background for red-figure) and two special slips for special techniques: coral red and white ground. The slips used for black-figure and coral red did change color during firing, while the slip used for white ground remained white during the firing process.

Posted on 08/15/06 by R. Lewis, Woodland Hills, CA
It was great to be able to see the pieces again and explore further after seeing the Villa in person last week.