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A Brief Overview of Greek Art
Transcript of A Brief Overview of Greek Art
A Brief Overview of Greek Art
Influences from Pre-existing cultures
Greek vase-paintings are known to have been made from as early as the second millennium BC. Early vases from Mycenaean vases of the late Bronze age are mostly painted solely for the purpose of aesthetics. Mycenaean vases mostly have patterns from sea life, which is quite different from its succeeding style of vase painting, austere geometric patterns.
Proto-geometric (1050-900 BC)
The shapes of vessels and the methods of creating them were developed, and simple patterns and shapes such as wavy lines and bands were used to decorated them. Specifically, the shapes amphora, krater, oinochoe and other cup shapes were created during this period. Instead of human motifs, it is animal motifs that are present, and even those were rare.
Geometric Period (900-700 BC)
In this period of time, human figures start to reappear, but the designs on vases are still predominately patterns. The figures on the vases are minimalistic, and it appears that the artists deliberately only painted essential features.
Archaic Period (700-500 BC)
In this time period, both vase-paintings and sculpture, the two main art forms, show advanced realism. Influences from nearby cultures are evident, and the Greeks combined their ideal aesthetics with the other cultures' to create their own form of art.
When the eastern cultures' art influenced the Greeks' vases, the resulting art is called "Orientalizing Art". Around 700 BC, the Corinthians developed black-figure painting. About 200 years later, in 530 BC, the Athenia artist Andokides developed red-figure painting.
Classical Period (500-330 BC)
The Classical Period is regarded as the "high point" for Greek art, and this is the time period in which Athenian art rose to prominence.
Hellenistic Period (330 BC-30 BC)
The beginning of this time period generally at Alexander the Great's conquest. It was due to his conquest that Greek art started to spread to other places.
Aftermath and Impact
Greek art, especially that of the Hellenistic Period, was loved and copied by Romans. In fact, many statues are in fact replicas of the original. Without those replicas, we would not know what the original one looked like.
Greek art inspired the Neo-classism movement of the Renaissance, which mistakenly thought Greek statues as pure marble.
Outline of this Presentation
In this presentation, you will learn about the general ideas of the ancient greeks about art, time periods of greek art, and about a few different forms of greek art. The forms of art that will be discussed are vase-painting, greek sculptures, and a bit about engraved gems.
*this time line is not to scale
In addition, art was not made just for "art's sake"; instead, art was thought to have a purpose.
All stone sculptures were painted (both wholly and partially), but the paint has mostly disappeared. In contrast to our general modern-day notions of greek sculpture being white, the sculptures were painted quite brightly.
Initially, gems were simple and linear. By the 6th and 7th centuries (Archaic period), though, gems were becoming rounder and started to show influences from other cultures as well. In fact, a special group of gems, called the Graeco-Persian gems, show elements of both Greek and eastern culture. By the Hellenistic time period, Alexander the Great brought access to many materials from the east, and thus materials were varied.
Examples of Engraved Gems
To put it simply, black-figure paintings are paintings where the objects are painted with slip, whereas it is the background that is painted with slip for red-figure paintings.
Greek vase-paintings evolve significantly in terms of techniques; instead of solely 2-dimensional images, the ancient Greeks later made their paintings appear more 3-dimensional and realistic by adding aspects such as foreshortening.
Since the Ancient Greeks' vases are hard to break, many vases survived and can tell us about daily life in Ancient Greece. They are usually found in tombs, sanctuaries, and private dwellings.
There are two types of Greek vase paintings: black-figure and red-figure.A slip that turned black when fired was used to make both types.
Famous Greek Sculptures normally survive in Roman reproductions. Especially in the earlier time periods, sculpture was made mostly for religious purposes, and was used to decorate temples.
The sculptures were primarily made of stone (limestone or marble), terracotta, wood, gold, ivory, and occasionally iron. Most of the surviving statues are made of stone, as the ones made of metal could be reused.
Engraved gems, like the two "main" art forms (greek sculpture and vase-painting) evolved greatly from a technical viewpoint over time. They were also used as seals.
In Ancient Greece, art could generally be divided into two categories: 1) art that depicted narrative myths and 2) scenes of daily life. Unlike Roman, Assyrian, and Egyptian art, Greek art generally did not portray historical events.
It is notable that the Greeks called both art and craftsmanship "techne". Great art was thought of as an example of great craftsmanship.
The preference for certain materials was not static. In the 7th and 6th centuries, BC, colored quartz was the most popular type of stone. Later, in the 5th and 4th centuries, different forms of quartz were still popular, but materials such as carnelian and lapis lazuli were as well. In the Hellenistic time period, beryl, garnet, topaz, and hyacinth (a type of zircon) were popular.
A common type of statue, one of a kouros (a youth) was derived from an Egyptian type. In addition, the Egyptians also had their way of precisely measuring anatomical proportions, which were also at first followed carefully by the Greeks.
In the beginning of the time period, there was both an economic and a cultural depression, so only simplified versions of the Minoans' and Mycenaeans' pottery were created.
One side of the pot of "Achilles and Ajax playing a dice game" is painted using red-figure tecnique, while the other is rendered in black-figure technique. This makes the pot billingual,.
During this time period, vase-painting started to decline because Rome was replacing Greece as the main cultural center.
An engraving of either a youth or a dwarf
with a hound on carnelian, 4th century
BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art
An image of Dionysus with a cup on
banded agate, late 4th-early 3rd century BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art
A female portrait on blue chalcedony, 2nd century BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Heracles and the Nemean Lion, last quarter of 6th century BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This is a terracotta vase made circa 750-735 BC.
The statues produced during this time were mostly kouros and kore, which are statues of young men and women, respectively. The statues had a stiff posture, and were initially very symmetrical. Over the course of the Archaic period, the statues became more and more realistic and naturalistic, due to better anatomy knowledge.
A kore from the late 6th century
Compared to the proto-geometric vase-paintings, the vases of the geometric period are generally taller and slimmer. The decorations also take up a larger area of the vase.
The sculptures of this period often had a soft and dreamy look to them; their body proportions were idealized. They didn't have any facial expressions and their poses expressed implied movement.
At this time, red-figure vase-painting was definitely superior to black-figure vase-painting, and there were many improvements in how the human body was rendered.
A statue of a woman from the late 4th century BC.
A column-krater vase, one used to mix wine and water. Made from 430 BC.
The statues from this time period were less dreamy and more dynamic than the ones of the Classical Period. By now, the technique was so fine-tuned that statues looked very close to perfect.
This statue was made in the 1st century BC.