Pompeii has long been gone since Mount Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79. The once-vibrant city was covered in volcanic ash and buried under volcanic rock and pumice.
A new exhibit at the Getty Villa, “The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, and Resurrection” has breathed new life into Pompeii, highlighting the impact that the cataclysmic event had on artists throughout the past 300 years.
The exhibit draws its name from Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s novel, “The Last Days of Pompeii,” pointing to this novel’s direct role in creating modern-day perceptions of the ancient city.
Another novel of influence was Wilhelm Jensen’s novel “Gradiva,” which derives its name from a fourth century bas-relief with the same name that depicts a young robed woman lifting the hems of her skirt as she walks. The image of the woman sensually raising her robe combined with the novel’s racy plot contributed to the perception that Pompeii was a decadent city that the gods had destined to be destroyed.
Even Pink Floyd’s film concert “Live from Pompeii” gets a brief nod.
The message of the exhibit is clear: the destruction of Pompeii spawned a chain reaction of art inspiring more art.
Even the Getty Villa itself is an homage to the lost of city of Pompeii. J. Paul Getty wanted to model his Villa after the Villa dei Papiri which sat halfway up the slope of Vesuvius before being destroyed.
Via The Getty Villa Unburies Pompeii's Legacies With Its New Exhibit | Neon Tommy