Sculpture and Art in Ancient Greece
Greek art and sculpture has had a profound effect throughout the ages. Many of the styles have been reproduced and copied by some of what the modern dayaudiences would class as some of the finest artists to have ever lived e.g.Michelangelo. Western art and sculpture derived from Roman art, while in theEast, Alexander the Great's conquest gave birth to Greco-Buddhist art, which haseven had an influence as far as Japan all of which stem from ancient Greek art. The Greeks used many different types of materials in their sculptures includingstone, marble and limestone as these were abundant in Greece. Other materialssuch as clay were also used but due to their brittle nature very few have survived.Greek sculptures are very important as the vast majority of them tell us a storyabout Gods, Heroes, Events, Mythical Creatures and Greek culture in general.Many of the statues that have survived are actually of Roman origin. Like manypeople today the Romans had a deep respect for Greek sculptures and many werecopied. If the Romans had not made these copies, many of the Greek Legends andstories that we know today would have been lost to antiquity. Greek sculpturesare mainly divided into 7 time periods - Mycenaean Art, Sub-Mycenaean or DarkAge, Proto-Geometric, Geometric Art, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic.Mycenaean art is the first era in which we find surviving examples of Greek art. This era dates from around 1550 BC to 1200 BC on the Greek mainland. Duringthis period there were two separate civilisations living on the mainland, theGreeks and the Mycenaeans. The Greeks at the time learnt a lot from theMycenaeans, who where more technologically advanced. The Greeks learnt howto build gates and tombs (such as Agamemnon's tomb in the 'Bee-hive') and howto use different metals in art, using Mycenaean techniques. The famousCyclopean Wall of Mycenae before the lion gate is a good example of theirmasonry skills. The Mycenaeans were also fantastic goldsmiths which can be seenfrom finds such as 'Agamemnon's Death Mask' found in a grave dating back to the16th Century. Other items such as ivory figures (the head of a warrior with boars'tuck helmet) and a Rock Crystal 'sauceboat' dating between the 16th and 13thCentury show they could craft out of other materials as well.Around 1200 BC, attributed to the Homeric Fall of Troy, seems to be the down fallof Mycenaean art, this time period being known as the Sub-Mycenaean or theDark Ages. This time period lasted from around 1100 to 1025 BC and very fewexamples of statutes or art have been found. The few items that have been foundshow no new methods or innovation. This is probably due to the constant warsand invasions which crippled the growth of their civilisation during that time. The next phase (ca. 1025 - 900 BC) is known as the Proto-Geometric art era. Webegin to find pottery starting to be decorated with simple shapes, wavy lines andblack hands. It is thought that this time period was the Greeks' first expression of reviving their civilisation. With the invention of faster pottery wheels and otherinnovations it is believed that experimenting with pottery began. Notableexamples of this era have a broad horizontal band about the neck and belly,concentric circles applied with a compass and multiple brushes. They are mainlyof abstract elements.