AP Art History Mrs.

Wiener Cycladic Art, third millennium BCE: Size, shape, medium and subject matter of Cycladic statuettes Middle Minoan period (Old Palace period): early second millennium BCE – 1700 BCE Beginning of palace culture on Crete Pottery: Kamares Ware jar, Phaistos (Crete), Greece, ca. 1800-1700 BCE Cretan potters used new potters’ wheels and decorated vases in fully polychromatic style. Found in quantity on Phaistos and Knossos. Creamy white and reddish-brown decoration is set against rich black ground. Central motif is of leaping fish – forerunner of diving dolphins of Late Minoan and Late Cycladic murals – and perhaps fishnet surrounded by host of curvilinear abstract patterns including waves and spirals. Swirling lines evoke life in sea and both abstract and natural forms beautifully complement shape of vessel. Late Minoan period (New Palace period): 1700-1400 BCE Palace at Knossos (thought to be legendary home of King Minos) Labyrinthine in form; rambling structure Theater-like area may have been precursor to Greek theater Well-constructed with thick walls composed of rough, unshaped fieldstones embedded in clay Ashlar masonry used at building corners and around door and window openings Rainwater drainage system also created; terracotta pipes underlie building Three stories around central court and even more on south and east sides Interior staircases built around light and air wells provided illumination and ventilation Painted Minoan columns – first made of wood – are characterized by bulbous, cushionlike capitals and distinctive shafts. Capitals resemble later Doric ones, but shafts taper from wide top to narrower base – opposite of Egyptian and later Greek ones Mural paintings at Knossos depict many aspects of Minoan life: bullleaping, processions and ceremonies, and of nature: birds, animals, flowers and marine life

La Parisienne, ca. 1450-1400 BCE: fragment of uncertain significance; name comes from elegant dress, elaborate hairdo and rouged lips of woman Conventional frontal eye but charm and freshness of depiction are Minoan. Minoan art has lively spirit Egyptians used fresco secco (dry fresco), but Minoans used a true (wet) fresco Bull-leaping fresco also at Knossos, ca. 1450-1400 BCE Fragments remain but composition has been restored Minoan artist painted young women with fair skin and youth with dark skin according to widely accepted ancient convention for distinguishing male and female Bull leaper is shown in air, having grasped bull by horns and leaped over it Artist shows powerful charge of bull by elongating animal’s shape and using sweeping lines to form funnel of energy Humans also have stylized shapes with typically Minoan pinched waists; forms are also highly animated Cretan figures are different from ANE and Egyptian b/c of their long, curly hair, proud and self-confident bearing Curving line of Minoan forms that suggests elasticity of living, moving human being also differs from strict rigidity of Egyptian forms Miniature Ships Fresco, Akrotiri, Thera (Cyclades, now Santorini), ca. 1650 BCE Well-preserved frescoes b/c island was covered in volcanic ash. Akrotiri frescoes decorated walls of homes, not great palaces Miniature Ships Fresco formed a frieze about 17 inches high at top of at least three walls of a room Such detailed representation of movement of ships and people from port to port does not appear until Roman times. Little of conventional art appears in fresco; instead arrangement of figures and poses varies significantly according to each person’s role – steering, tending to the sail, rowing, or simply sitting and conversing. Dolphins frolic about ship, and on left lion pursues fleeing deer. Port encircled by a river represented as arch above it has quays, houses and streets filled w/men attentive to coming and going of ships. Composition has lightness and openness that suggest freedom of movement of people born to sea. Landscape with Swallows, Spring Fresco, Akrotiri, Thera, 1650 BCE Nature is subject, but not realistic. Intent was to capture landscape’s essence and to express joy in splendid surroundings. Irrationally undulating rocks and vividly colored rocks, graceful lilies swaying in the

breeze, and darting swallows express vigor of growth, delicacy of flowering and lightness of birdsong and flight. First known example of pure landscape painting. Polar opposite of Paleolithic cave paintings, where animals (and sometimes humans) appeared as isolated figures w/no indication of setting. Snake Goddess, from palace at Knossos (Crete), Greece, ca. 1600 BCE Faience – glazed earthenware No temples or monumental statues of gods, kings or monsters have been found in Minoan Crete Minoan sculpture found is small in scale like Snake Goddess May represent mortal attendant to deity rather than deity. Prominently displayed breasts suggests that these figurines stand in long line of prehistoric fertility images usually associated w/divinities. Woman holds snakes but also supports leopard on head. Power over animal world also suggests power of deity. Frontality of figure reminiscent of Egyptian and Meso art but costume, w/open bodice and flounced skirt is Minoan. If statue represents goddess, then another example of how humans fashion gods in their own image. Late Minoan pottery: Marine Style octopus jar, Palaikastro (Crete), Greece, ca. 1500 BCE Tentacles of octopus reach out over curving surfaces of vessels, embracing piece and emphasizing its volume. Masterful realization of relationship between vessel’s decoration and its shape. Vase differs markedly from Kamares ware in color. Jar more muted in tone. Also artist reversed earlier scheme and placed dark silhouettes on light background. This remained norm for about 1000 years until around 530 BCE when light background began to be used in very different way. Sarcophagus, Hagia Triada (Crete), Greece, ca. 1450-1400 BCE Limestone Paintings on sarcophagus are closely related in technique, color scheme, and figure style to frescoes of period, but subject differs b/c on sarcophagus are funerary rites of dead. At right, dead man appears upright in front of own tomb and watches as three men (dark skin color) bring offerings to him. At left two lightskinned women carry vessels and pour libation to dead while male musician plays a lyre. Harvester Vase, Hagia Triada, ca. 1500 BCE Probably finest surviving example of Minoan relief sculpture. Only upper half of egg-shaped body and neck of vessel are preserved. Missing are lower parts of harvesters (or, possibly, sowers) and ground

on which they stand. Minoan artist shunned static repetition of Egyptian type scenes in favor of a composition that bursts w/energy of individualized figures. Relief shows riotous crowd singing and shouting as they go or return from fields. Artist captured forward movement and lusty exuberance of youths. Most figures conform to age-old convention of combined profile and frontal view but one figure stands out. He shakes a rattle to beat time, and artist depicted him in full profile w/lungs so inflated that ribs show. One of first instances in art where sculptor shows keen interest in musculature of human body. Artist’s painstaking study of human anatomy is remarkable achievement, especially given size of vase (barely 5 inches at greatest diameter), but also remarkable is how sculptor recorded tension and relaxation of facial muscles w/astonishing exactitude. This degree of animation is unprecedented in ancient art. Sculpture: Young god(?), from Palaikastro (Crete), Greece, ca. 15001475 BCE Statuette nearly 20 inches tall , fashioned from hippopotamus tusk ivory, gold, serpentine and rock crystal. Very early example of chryselephantine, which Greeks would later use to fashion their cult images (Athena Parthenos). Ivory and gold probably imported from Egypt, source also of left foot advancing. Style and iconography are Cretan. Sculptor rendered minute details of muscles and veins. The youth (shaved head save for central braid indicates age) was displayed alone in a shrine and therefore seems to have been a god rather than a mortal. Importance of Minoan culture faded soon after 1400 BCE. Mycenaean art, Late Helladic period By 1500 BCE Mycenaean culture flourishing. Mycenaean citadels are so impressive that Greeks of later age thought they had to have been built by Clyclopes, a race of one-eyed giants. That’s why massive stone walls at Mycenaean citadels are referred to as Cyclopean masonry. Citadel at Tiryns, Greece, 1400-1200 BCE Heavy walls of Tiryns and other Mycenaean palaces contrast sharply with open Cretan palaces and shows their defensive role. The walls at Tiryns average 20 inches in thickness, and in one section they house a long gallery covered by a corbelled vault (see Glossary) with a pointed arch. No mortar used and vault held together only by weight of blocks, by smaller stones used as wedges and by clay that fills some empty spaces.

Narrow entryway gates forced soldiers into narrow line, easy to attack. Megaron – reception hall of king. Main room of megaron had throne against right wall and central hearth bordered by four Minoan-style columns supporting the roof. Vestibule w/columnar façade precede throne room. Variation of this plan later formed core of some of earliest Greek temples. Citadel/palace had frescoes Lion Gate, (Agamemnon’s!) Mycenae, Greece, 1300-1250 BCE Monumental sculpture Gate itself formed by two great monoliths capped by huge lintel. Above lintel, masonry forms corbelled arch that lightens weight the lintel carries. This relieving triangle is filled with a great limestone slab where two lions carved in high relief stand on side of Minoan-type column. Whole design fills its triangular space, harmonizing in dignity, strength and scale with massive stones that form walls and gate. Similar groups appear on Cretan seals, but monster guardians at entrance of palaces, tombs and sacred gates comes from Egypt and ANE. Sculpture and metalwork: Funerary mask, Mycenae, Greece ca. 16001500 BCE Just inside Lion Gate, archeologists uncovered grave that served as tombs for kings and their families. Mycenaeans laid their dead to rest on floors of grave shafts with masks covering their faces. Buried women with jewelry and men with their weapons and golden cups. Funerary mask is beaten, repousse mask. Treatment of human face is more primitive here than in Tuthankhamen’s mask, but medium is same. Here is one of first known attempts in Greece to render human face at life-size. Not known if Mycenaean masks were intended as portraits, but goldsmiths carried out details with care. Portrayed youthful as well as mature faces. Example in book has mature man – man has beard – perhaps a king. Inlaid dagger blade with lion hunt, Mycenae, Greece, ca. 1600-1500 BCE Bronze, inlaid with gold, silver and niello (black metallic alloy) Attests to wealth of culture and its martial attitude Blade is decorated on one side with scene of four hunters attacking a lion that has struck down a fifth hunter, while two other lions flee. Other side shows lion attacking deer. Slim-waisted, long-haired figures are typically Minoan, but artist copied subject matter from Near East.

Tombs: Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae, Greece, ca. 1300-1250 BCE Tholos tombs – beehive shaped tombs covered by earthen mounds Treasury of Atreus is one of best preserved. Called so because it was mistakenly believed, even in antiquity, to have been the repository of the treasure of Atreus, Agamemnon and Menelaus’ father. Approached by long passageway, dromos, tomb chamber was entered through a doorway surmounted by a relieving triangle similar to one at Lion Gate. Tholos is composed of series of corbelled courses laid on circular base and ending in lofty (high) dome. (page 99, detailed explanation of building technique) Largest known vaulted space without interior supports that had ever been built – 43 feet high. Achievement was not surpassed until Romans constructed Pantheon. Female head, Mycenae, Greece, ca. 1300-1250 Painted plaster Monumental sculpture rare in Mycenaean art. Here is female plaster head of woman, perhaps a goddess. White flesh tone indicates female. Hair and eyes are dark blue and lips, ears, headband are red. Cheeks and chin have red circle decoration – facial paint or tattoos, similar to ones on Cycladic figurines. Triangular shape also reminiscent of Cycladic figurines. Large staring eyes give face menacing expression appropriate for guardian figure such as a sphinx. Closest parallels are terracotta figurines from Mycenaean shrines.

Warrior Vase, Mycenae, Greece, ca. 1200 BCE Vase painting continued even after downfall of Mycenaean culture. Latest examples from Bronze Age is this krater, bowl for mixing wine and water. Has frieze of soldiers marching off to war as woman bids farewell to them. No indication of setting and no landscape elements that characterize earlier Minoan and Mycenaean art. By end of Mycenaean time period, figures have become increasingly stylized, increasingly schematic and abstract. Art of figure painting had been forgotten.

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