Friday 3 December 2021

The Maria Callas sculpture in Athens

Across the road from the Herodou Attikou ancient Roman theatre, where Maria Callas made her debut

the new sculpture of the opera singer has been recently installed,


From day one of its installation the sculpture has been ridiculed and has generated a social media storm. People have complained that it's more redolent of 'Ghandhi in heels', or an Oscar statuette, than the prima donna. Created by Aphrodite Liti, professor of sculpture at the Athens School of Fine arts, the sculpture has been criticised for being kitsch, unbecoming and for bearing absolutely no resemblance to Callas.

Born to Greek immigrant parents in New York, Callas was christened Maria Anna Sofia Celia Kalogeropoulos before returning to Athens and rising to stardom. 

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The controversy surrounding the sculpture of Callas reminded me of another public sculpture that has been heavily criticised.

(photograph from the Guardian).

Namely, the sculpture of Mary Woolstonecraft which stands in north London. The sculpture, created by Maggi Hambling shows a silvery naked woman held up by a swirling mingle of female forms. 

The critics ask why is the 'mother' of feminism celebrated with a naked female form. Caroline Criado-Perez: 'I honestly feel that actually this representation is insulting to her. I can't see her feeling happy to be represented by this naked, perfectly formed wet dream of a woman'.

(photograph from the Guardian)

Caitlin Moran: 'Imagine if there was a statue of a hot young naked guy 'in tribute' to eg Churchill. It would look mad. This also, looks mad'.

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