Prof: 'white marble' in artwork contributes to white supremacy

Dan Jackson
Massachusetts Campus Correspondent

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  • In a recent op-ed, Professor Sarah Bond argued that the "white marble" often seen in classical artwork was initially colored.
  • As a result, she suggests that "the equation of white marble with beauty" contributes to "white supremacist ideas today."
  • A University of Iowa professor recently argued that appreciation of “white marble” used in classical artwork contributes to “white supremacist ideas today.”

    Professor Sarah Bond demonstrates in an article published in Hyperallergic that “many of the statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi created in the ancient Western world were in fact painted,” meaning the “white marble” often seen in such pieces of art were intended to be colored.

    “[It is] a dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today.”   

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    Consequently, Bond argues that “the equation of white marble with beauty is not an inherent truth of the universe,” and is thus “a dangerous construct that continues to influence white supremacist ideas today.”

    Bond goes on to point out that “most museums and art history textbooks contain a predominantly neon white display of skin tone,” which “has an impact on the way we view the antique world.”

    “The assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region,” she adds, later stating that misconceptions of the classical era provide “further ammunition for white supremacists today, including groups like Identity Europa, who use classical statuary as a symbol of white male superiority.”

    “It may have taken just one classical statue to influence the false construction of race, but it will take many of us to tear it down,” Bond concludes. “We have the power to return color to the ancient world, but it has to start with us.”

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    Campus Reform reached out to Bond for elaboration on her claims, who explained that the “exalting of white (and unpainted) marble was then an 18th century construct.”

    “The point is simply that Greeks and Romans actually added color to their art and thus white marble was often the canvas rather than the finished product,” she remarked. “The exalting of white (and unpainted) marble was then an 18th century construct of beauty rather than representative of the classical view. In any case, let me know if you would like to discuss this issue further.”

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    Dan Jackson

    Dan Jackson

    Massachusetts Campus Correspondent

    Dan Jackson is a Massachusetts Campus Correspondent, and reports liberal bias and abuse on college campuses for Campus Reform. He is a junior at Becker College and currently serves as chapter president of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign Manager for Central MA.

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