The Royal Academy of Arts Will Host “Serpent and Shadow” | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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The Royal Academy of Arts Will Host “Serpent and Shadow”

"Mediterranean landscape," Josephine Baker-Heaslip
(Courtesy of Royal Academy of Arts, London)

In classical mythology, Laocoon, a seer and a priest of the god Apollo,  warned fellow Trojans against bringing ‘The Trojan Horse,’ the fateful wooden horse that was presented to them by the Greeks into the soil of their country. God Poseidon, angered by this, sent sea serpents to strangle Laocoon and his sons. The death of Laocoon was famously depicted in a much-admired marble sculpture “Laocoon and His Sons,” attributed to sculptors Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydorus. The sculpture, dating back to the 1st century BC,  stands in the Vatican Museums.

A copy of this original sculpture, which is a plaster cast of the “Laocoon and his Sons” by Hagesandros, will be on view at the Royal Academy of Arts’ upcoming exhibition “Serpent and Shadow.” The sculpture was found at the Esquiline Hill in Rome in 1506. The exhibition, opening on August 18, 2018, is to mark the relocation of the sculpture from the Royal Academy Schools’ Cast Corridor and into the Collections Gallery of Burlington House. The relocation, the museum says, “institutes a change in the perception of this cast sculpture: from teaching model to exhibited artwork.”

“This exhibition,” the museum writes, “uses the change in context of the Laocoon sculpture as one of several ways to explore notions of governance and obscurity through the dual metaphor of the serpent and the shadow: displayed control and obscure monstrosity; the leviathan and the shadow it casts; lightning as snakes and snakes as electrical lighting.”

“Serpent and Shadow” will be on view from August 8 through October 10, 2018, at the Royal Academy of Arts,  Burlington House, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 0BD, UK.

For details, visit

Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the exhibition.

Founder: Louise Blouin