Chicago’s National Hellenic Museum (NHM) will host the “Hellenic Heads” exhibition by artist George Petrides, featuring six larger-than-life busts inspired by key periods in Greek history spanning 2,500 years, from ancient times to the present.
The exhibition will launch on July 21 and will remain open till December 10.
Starting with a rigorous research process including archaeological artifacts, academic sources, family stories and historical photographs, Petrides studied six important periods in Greek history spanning 2,500 years:
Classical Greek Period (510 BC to 323 BC); Byzantine Period (330 AD to 1453 AD); Greek War of Independence (1821 to 1829); Destruction of Smyrna (1922); Nazi Occupation and Greek Civil War (1941 to 1949); and the Present.
Following this historical research, Petrides sought out sculptural precedents for inspiration, ranging from works from the above periods to more recent sculptors such as Michelangelo, Houdon, and Rodin.
Six busts for the Hellenic Heads exhibition at the National Hellenic Museum
Then he asked family members to pose for him, producing six larger-than-life busts for the Hellenic Heads exhibition, which are approximately three feet in height and stand taller than six feet on pedestals.
Petrides was named a “globally recognized sculptor” by Forbes (2022). His work can be seen around the world, ranging from public sculptures in Greece and Turkey marking the centennial of the destruction of Smyrna in 1922, to a bronze head in the renovated Tiffany’s flagship store at 727 Fifth Avenue in New York.
Petrides, who lives and works primarily in New York City, creates sculptures that include the figurative and abstract, in sizes ranging from palm-sized to over 12 feet on a base. Born and partly raised in Greece, he is steeped in ancient Greek and Roman sculpture and the later works that were influenced by it (Donatello, Michelangelo, Rodin, Maillol, et al.).
Furthermore, modernist sculptors of the mid-20th century such as Giacometti and contemporary sculptors who reference ancient Greek sculpture such as Ray and Bhabha have played an important role in his work.
His primary artistic interest is in the human experience in the form of the body and the head, exploring the beauty and the imperfection of people and of life.
Petrides grew up in a family of artists and business people and his first career was on Wall Street. He took his first art class at age 32 and continued taking art classes for some 20 years before committing to make art full-time.
He studied drawing, painting and sculpture at the New York Studio School (whose famous students include Christopher Wool and Cecily Brown), at the Art Students League, and at the Academie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.
In 2017, Petrides dedicated himself to making art full-time. He has had solo shows in Brookline, MA, Dubai, Monaco, Mykonos, Southampton, NY, and Washington, DC; and he has participated in multiple artist or group shows, including an exhibition with the important Greek-American artist Nassos Daphnis in New York.
The National Hellenic Museum, dedicated to connecting generations to the legacy of Greek culture and history and the Greek story in America, recently hosted the ceremony for the return by the US of dozens of ancient coins to Greece.
The Museum highlights Greek American contributions to the American mosaic, and inspires curiosity about visitors’ own family stories through cultural expression and oral history. Field trips and tours are available every day.
Public programs and community events are scheduled throughout the year. The NHM Greek Language Program offers semester-long lessons in modern Greek to all ages.