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Greek Art

Greek Art

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Published by: audreypillow on Feb 11, 2010
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Geometric Style

• • • • At first, Geometric pottery was decorated only with abstract designs, but toward 800 BC humans and animals began to appear This is the Dipylon vase, c. 750 BC, from the Dipylon cemetery Belongs to a group of very large vases that served as grave monuments On the body of the vase we see the dead man lying in state, flanked my mourning figures; below is a funeral procession The width, density, and spacing of the bands are subtly related to the vessel, but interest in representation is minimal The figures are highly stylized and repeated at regular intervals; this is a silhouette style that cannot accommodate overlapping The figures merge into an overall decorative pattern During this era, the two greatest Greek artistic achievements were the Homeric epics in literature, the Iliad and the Odyssey; but the visual art of this period does not hint at the accomplishment and power of those poems. During this period, painting and sculpture has not developed as much as poetry; the Geometric style is highly formulaic and mostly funerary

• •

Orientalizing Style
• • • By about 700 BC new motifs began to appear and Greek art entered a new phase, the profoundly transforming Orientalizing style, which looks to Egypt and the Near East Represents a new monumentality and variety with much experimentation This is a large amphora (vase for storing wine or oil) from Eleusis: The Blinding of Polyphemos and the Gorgons Chasing Perseus Compared to the Dipylon Vase: ornamentation is secondary; the major areas are given over to storytelling and figural representation of heroes, gods, monsters This shows the blinding of the giant one-eyed Cyclops Polythemos by Odysseus and his companions, who the giant had imprisoned The slaying of another monstrous creature is depicted on the belly of the vase but it has been damaged; we see only two figures, the gorgons (sisters of Medusa), and the goddess Athena Two technical advances during this time: outline drawing and incision (scratching in details with a needle; this allows the artist to create overlappings and interior lines to delineate anatomy, dress, hair, etc

Archaic Style
•Orientalizing period was transitional; as artists assimilated elements from the East, the Archaic style emerged; in this era we see the unfolding of the artistic genius of Greece, not only in vase painting but in architecture and sculpture •Archaic vase painting introduces signatures of artists, distinctive artists’ styles and some of the first clearly defined personalities in the history of art; this was the great era of vase painting •This vase represents the black figure technique, in which the entire design is silhouetted in black against the reddish clay and all internal details are incised; this technique favors a layered, two-dimensional effect that complements the curvature of the vase •This vase by Psiax, Herkales Strangling the Nemean Lion, c.525 BC, shows a man facing unknown forces in the form of terrifying creatures; it is grim and violent, with heavy bodies locked in combat, almost merging into a single unit •:Lines and colors have been added with the utmost economy to avoid breaking up the massive expanse of black, yet the figures show a wealth of anatomical knowledge and skillful foreshortening that they give an illusion of existing in the round •Only in details such as the eye of Herkales do we still find the traditional combination of front and profile views •This style was not confined to vases; there were murals and panels too but none survive today

Red-figure technique
• • • This gradually replaced the older blackfigure method toward 500 BC This is a krater for mixing wine by Euphronios, Herkales Wrestling Antaios In this style, interior lines are not incised but were applied with a nozzle (like a cake icer) or a brush; the artist depends less on the profile view than before He uses interior lines to show boldly foreshortened and overlapping limbs, costume details, and facial expressions Figures are as large as possible, and these details allow the artist to explore a new world of feeling: we see suffering, pain and fear

Classical Style
• According to literary sources, Greek mural painters of this period, which began about 480 BC, achieved major breakthroughs in creating an illusion of spacial depth or perspective, scenes of real dramatic power, and vigorous studies of human character and emotion. This gradually transformed vase painting into a minor art. Greek painting reached its peak in the fourth century BC with the invention of the picture for display on an easel or wall Roman frescoes and mosaics give us an idea of what these looked like, but are not always reliable The following slide, Battle of Alexander and the Persians, is probably a later Roman copy of an early Hellenistic painting of 330-300 BC Follows four-color scheme (yellow, red, black, white); foreshortening and precise shadows make this far more complicated and dramatic than anything we’ve seen so far; it is a realistic depiction of a historical event

• • • •

• Creation of large freestanding temples began in late Geometric period; from about 600 BC cut stone was used throughout except for the roof • The temple is essentially a weather-proof statue box, intended to house the statue of a deity worshipped there • Greek temple architecture is one of the most important legacies to Western art • Parts of a Greek temple (required)

• If you have the textbook, review “Reading Architectural Drawings” (p. 79)

• • • Greek architecture is identified with the three Classical orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian (the third is a variant of the Ionic) An architectural order is a distinct and consistent architectural style; this term is only used for Greek architecture and its descendants The orders are sets of generally accepted conventions, ensuring that the elements of the two orders remained extraordinarily constant in kind, number, and relation to one another Each temple is governed by a structural logic that makes it look stable and satisfying because of the precise arrangement of its parts; it shows and internal consistency, harmony, and balance The Greek orders place a premium on design in architecture (as opposed to mere building); symmetry and proportion are paramount More on the Greek Orders (required)

• •

Temples of Hera I and II
• • • • • Hera I (here): c. 550 BC; Hera II (next slide): c.460 BC, Paesturm, Italy (a former Greek colony) Dedicated to goddess Hera, wife of Zeus Both temples are Doric but bear striking differences in their proportions Hera I is low and sprawling; Hera II looks tall and compact The columns at Hera I are more strongly curved and tapered to a relatively narrow top. This swelling effect, called entasis, makes one feel that the columns bulge with the strain of supporting the structure In the columns at Hera II the exaggerated curvature has been modified: the columns are taller and the capitals are more compact; combined with wider column spacing, there is a more harmonious balance

The Parthenon
• Sits on the Akropolis (also Acropolis, literally “high city”), the sacred hill above Athens • The greatest temple on this hill is the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, Athens’ patron deity • Embodiment of Classical Doric architecture; built of white marble • More about the Parthenon (required)

The Propylea
• Is the monumental entry gate to the Western end of the Akropolis • Also built of marble • Features proportions and refinements similar to the Parthenon, but on a steeply rising site

Archaic Sculpture
• • Kouros (Standing Youth), c . 580 BC, marble Compared with Egyptian statue of Menkaure, they share a block-conscious quality, both stand with left leg forward, both planned on a grid and very formal But the Kouros is truly freestanding; it is the earliest large stone image of the human art of which this can be said. Arms are separated from the torso and legs from each other; the carver cuts away the rest of the stone (only exception is the bridges between fists and thighs). Earlier sculptures remain immersed in the stone, empty spaces between forms remain partly filled)

• •

This kore (as the female Greek statue is called) is more varied than the kouros, because it is clothed Poses the problem of relating body and drapery; more likely to reflect changing habits and local differences in dress This Kore in Ionian Dress (c. 520 BC, marble) was made almost a century after the Kouros on the last slide Wears symmetrical linen gown (chiton) over a heavy assymetrical woolen cloak (or himmation) beneath Folds are highly stylized Strong face with mannish face but characteristic smile and soft tresses that fall to the shoulders and softly model the breasts Kouros (“male youth”) and kore (“maiden”) sculptures gernerally represent youth, vitality and happiness

Architectural Sculpture
• • Greek temples were designed with sculpture in mind Stone sculpture in temples is mostly confined to the pediment between the ceiling and roof, and to the zone below (although Ionians would sometimes support the roof of a porch with female statues called caryatids instead of columns) The Battle of the Gods and Giants (north frieze of the Treasury of the Siphnians at Delphi), c. 530 BC is executed in very high relief with deep undercutting; sculptor has taken advantage of the spatial possibilities here Arms and legs nearest the viewer are carved completely in the round This is a condensed but convincing space that permits a more dramatic relationship between the figures than we have ever seen before in narrative reliefs

• •

Classical Style Sculpture
• • Kritios Boy, c 480 BC, marble Figure stands “at ease” due to a stance called contraposto (or counterpoise); balancing weight-bearing and free, tensed and relaxed, bringing about subtle displacements; these make it seem more “alive” See video excerpt of BBC's "How Art Made the World” (required) for a discussion of this sculpture as well as later refinements

• Zeus, c. 460 BC, Bronze, almost 7 ft tall • His physique is a mature version of the Kritios Boy, powerfully defined and massive, expressing the god’s cosmic power

• Doryphoros (Spear Bearer), modern reconstruction of original of c. 440 BC by Polykleitos • Now the tense and relaxed limbs are more sharply and clearly differentiated; turn of the head more pronounced • A “perfect” model and sculptural prototype of the Greek canon • More on the Doryphoros here (required)

Classical Sculpture
• Three Goddesses, from the east pediment of the Parthenon, c. 438432 BC, marble, over life-size In fragmentary condition, now housed in the British Museum (part of the group of works known as the Elgin Marbles) Represents various female deities in sitting and reclining poses; depicts ease of movement even in repose No specific action, violence or pathos - just a “deeply felt poetry of being”; thin, “wet-look” drapery of costume

Hellenistic Sculpture
• Came after Classical period; generally even more realistic and expressive but at times contrived or even contorted • Epignonos of Pergamon (?), Dying Trumpter, Roman copy after a bronze original of c. 200 BC; over 6 ft tall • This Celtic trumpeter (the Greeks’ enemy) has been fatally wounded in the chest in battle • Depicts a great deal of ethnic detail, dignity and pathos

• Pythokritos of Rhodes (?), Nike of Samothrace, c. 190 BC • Greatest surviving masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture • About this sculpture (required)

• Portrait Head from Delos, c. 100 BC, bronze • Once part of a full-length statue; man’s identity is not known • Fluid modeling of somewhat flabby features, uncertain mouth, and unhappy eyes under furrowed brows reveal doubt and fear; this is far from the heroic perfection of the Classical period

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