This Europe: Sculptors take their place at Olympic Games

An exhibition of work by six sculptors from the late 19th and early 20th centuries will form the cornerstone of the arts festival accompanying the 2004 Olympic Games.

The six-month display at Greece's National Gallery, tentatively titled "Six leading sculptors and the human figure", will feature art by Auguste Rodin, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle and Aristide Maillol from France, Constantin Brancusi from Romania, the Swiss-born Alberto Giacometti and Henry Moore.

The exhibition, which will run from May to October 2004, will include about 120 sculptures, 60 designs and other work, including Rodin's own collection of antiquities. The Olympic Games will take place in August.

"The artists of Europe are returning to the source of their inspiration," said Jacques Vilain, director of the Musée Rodin, who also recommended some sculptures be displayed in public around the city.

Marina Lambrakis-Plaka, director of the Greek National Gallery, said the show would be the first time the work of six leading sculptors had been brought together.

David Mitchinson, head of collections and exhibitions at the Henry Moore Foundation, which will lend work for the exhibit, said: "The concept is most unusual ... and incredibly ambitious."

Work by Moore will also feature in a separate retrospective that will inaugurate the city's new National Sculpture Museum. Its planned opening is shortly after that of the National Gallery's exhibition.

Moore's work has been shown in Greece before. The abstract artist's exhibition in 1949 raised locals' eyebrows. Mr Mitchinson said: "I think it was too early for Moore and the Greek public."

The twin sculpture exhibitions are two of about 45 arts programmes planned for 2003-04 as part of the Cultural Olympiad, a festival featuring exhibitions and showsin Greece and abroad.

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