The Feed: @mythology_in_art
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
By Elizabeth Gracen:
I really love Instagram and the sheer variety of images and stories shared from around the world. I'm constantly fascinated with all the feeds that capture my eye. Our monthly series THE FEED features curators and their approach to creating their unique Instagram feeds.
This month, I reached out to @mythology_in_art.
EG: Thank you so much for letting us include your gorgeous Instagram curation in The Feed. What a feast for the eyes! Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how and when you came about the curation of @mythology_in_art.
MA: My name is Anna, I am 32 years old. I'm a visual person, an author, and a jewelry designer, and I've always been interested in art, especially classical. Mythology has fascinated me since childhood. I used to work as a researcher and analyst in various fields. A few years ago, I found myself collecting an archive of mythological art images and realized that it should be published. I was amazed at the amount of beauty created from antiquity to the present day. Exploring a specific subject allows you to come across a variety of rare works of art by famous and unknown artists.
Greco-Roman mythology is the theme most widely represented in Western non-Christian art. I started @mythology_in_art in 2018, telling myths and supporting them with related art objects reflecting their plots. The page starts from Magnum Chaos and primordial deities, then flows to the first and subsequent generations of gods, and further to legendary kings and heroes. Myths flow into one another, and I try not to interrupt this flow (unless the plot ends itself). So it can be said that, in a sense, mythology itself creates this page and sequence of stories.
EG: What is “Mythology Art Therapy”?
MA: Mythology Art Therapy is a system—a way to perceive and process the content of @mythology_in_art. There is a tremendous amount of content in the information space today, and this all affects us and our psyche in different ways. I believe that a conscious approach to mythology—even to the cruelest stories, understanding that they represent some kind of lessons—can have a positive impact on human consciousness.
EG: Do you think the study of myth is relevant today? Why should people bother with studying these compelling tales?
MA: Mythology is a kind of algebra of human relationships, but it may not be easy to see and understand it. If we consider mythological stories as a complex of interrelated occasions, one can see both the logic and the cause-and-effect relationship between everything that happens there. For example, in recent months, my research has been devoted to the sorrowful royal families—Cadmus House (Oedipus and the descendants), and the House of Atreus (Agamemnon and others). Every disaster that happened to these houses have a root cause. Take a look at the situation in the context of previous generations; here I see a lot in common with the concept of Karma in Hinduism, where some action gives rise to some kind of opposition, which manifests itself later until it becomes comprehended.
Oedipus solving the riddle of Sphinx by Gustave Moreau
EG: I love your line on the @mythology_in_art Instagram account: “Art is the highest form of hope.” Please explain the quote and why you’ve included it.
MA: "Art is the highest form of hope" are words said by German painter Gerhard Richter, who manifested it by his extraordinary biography. These words explained a lot to me about the inner creating nature and inspired me.
EG: Why do you think artists throughout the ages have consistently drawn on “myth” for inspiration?
MA: Ancient mythology is an abundant source for incredible and unpredictable plots, they are so unconventional that they can surprise and enchant, and everyone finds something close to themselves in this diversity. What's your favorite myth? Answer this question and look at your life as if from the outside, honestly. Perhaps you will find an explanation of why certain happenings took place, or why they did not happen.
Hermes (Mercury) bringing Psyche to Olympus
EG: Why have you chosen the particular works of art in your curation?
MA: Revealing any mythological theme in art, I strive to show how much it is represented from antiquity to our times, as full as is possible, in the academic frame. I want to show the entire range to create complete reflection of the plot, regardless of my personal sympathies (almost). These chosen objects can be very different from an artistic point of view, but it seems to me that they deserve attention in the context of the topic
EG: Do you use other forms of social media to communicate your ideas about myth and art? Why have you chosen Instagram in particular?
MA: Instagram is the only platform I use for the representation of the mythological art I collect because of the complex advantages—from the ability to communicate with other mythological and art lovers to the easiness of using. Only one thing is seriously lacking—the format of the feed doesn't give an opportunity to navigate inside the archive of posts, so the earlier posts are less reachable. It would be interesting to reverse my archive one day—from Magnum Chaos to current heroes.
EG: Where do you see your curation a year from now?
MA: Concerning my curation, the more time I devote to it, the more enthusiasm I have. In the coming year, I am going to deepen my research and find an opportunity to devote more time to it. I would also like to communicate and collaborate with the professional art community and find interesting opportunities for cooperation with museums, galleries, auction houses, artists, and other interested people and institutions. I also have an idea to create a collection of jewelry inspired by mythological art, and I really hope for the success of this venture.
EG: Please share some of your favorite images and tell us about them. Why are these important to you? Why did you post them?
MA: It's not easy to highlight my favorite paintings—there are countless recognized masterpieces. Mythology is widely revealed in the works of Botticelli, Spranger, Rembrandt, Rubens, Canova, Gustave Moreau, and other famous artists. But I would like to highlight the paintings of lesser-known authors and tell why they are remarkable.
There are many popular subjects repeated by many artists of different eras, such as Venus and Adonis.
Venus mourning the dead Adonis, by workshop of Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert is one of the interpretations of original painting of Bosschaert, made by some of his followers. The painting is completely mesmerizing me with its emotionality—from tears frozen in the eyes of Venus to the sympathetic expression of a dog, and of course—the extraordinary palette.
I appreciate especially the rare mythological episodes that are represented by some single object of art, such as Coronation of Persephone by Renat Berkutsia. The painting shows the moment of the coronation of Persephone by the king of Underworld Hades, emerging from the pomegranate darkness. He is represented by one hand that is like a frozen stone of a dead world, but Persephone prefers not to see it.