Greek Art

Greek Art Greek Art By Lizette There are three major categories of Greek sculpture: freestanding statues, architectural sculpture, and nonarchitectural reliefs. The principal subjects of Greek sculpture are gods, heroes of legend, and athletes, youths, or maidens intended to demonstrate ideals of beauty. Whatever the subject, category, or material, the typical Greek sculpture was basically spiritual in function. Most statues and reliefs were dedicated as offerings in sanctuaries to please or thank divinities, or stood as markers over graves, while architectural sculpture was carved essentially only for temples, treasuries, or tombs. The determining phase of Greek sculpture closes with sculptures viewed principally from the front. This frontal stance and an advanced left leg prevail in later larger statues in Greece and so initiates the Archaic period.

Although, this art phase contained various little changes that had an overall effect, such as freedom of space between the arms and torso, the archaic smile, and on to ornate dressings on woman statuettes. The characteristics of Archaic sculpture began to define themselves after 675 BC; the style in fact derives some of its elements from Egyptian models. The typical statue depicts a frontal figure short, standing stiffly with a low forehead, face framed by heavy triangular locks of hair. The Archaic freestanding statues are certainly similar to Egyptian sarcophaguses and cubic figures. The Female Figure and the Standing Youth can be matched up to Menkaure and His Wife, Queen Khamerernebty from Egypt. One leg of the kouros, usually the left, strides forward, while he holds his arms stiffly at his sides.

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The feet are blocked shaped, the eyes are all round and bold, while the Greek kore and kouros have more freedom between the torso and arms. Then within the Archaic period a change occurs that leads it to the classical period. From the Standing Youth of 600 BC, to the Kroisos from 525 BC, the shape of the body becomes more natural and flowing. The cubic shape has disappeared with a more proportioned body, and the edge at the femur bone is smoothened. Also in women statuettes alterations are shown.

Kore in Dorian Peplos figures carries a lightweight simple dress as the Kore in Chios has elaborate jewelry placed on her. These two kore figures display the geometric shaped hair as the earlier kore statue, but the later ones have longer hair. The evolution of the Archaic kore figure is slightly different: Early sculptors concentrated on the kores clothing, showing folds in the cloth at first as regularly incised lines and later as more varied and deeply cut. By the close of the Archaic period, artists had begun to pay more attention to the shape of the body beneath the folds and to render figures with greater individuality. The first large-scale stone pediment in Greek sculpture decorated the Doric Temple of Artemis on the island of Corfu. As in that of the Lioness Gate at Mycenae the carvings are in high relief and hold decorative symbols to ward of evil.

The Athenian Treasury at Delphi, Battle of the Gods and the Giants, places layer upon layer, using undercutting as the main skill. This can be recalled later in the Hellenic period in which the Great Frieze of the Great Pergamum contains a scene named, Athena and Alcyoneus. The panoramic sculptures are so definably cut that they seem unbound from the pediment. Early Classical sculptors, unlike their Archaic predecessors, began to explore the inner character and the emotions of their subjects. At the same time they began to create statues that broke from the rigidity of the Archaic kouros by simulating a contrapposto.

The pose first appears in a marble figure known as the Kritios Boy (480 BC). In contrast to a stiff and archaic smile figure, the Kritios Boy seems to make a facial and bodily reaction to what he is contemplating. In contrast, the Kroisos from 525 BC is a more self-prominent character rather than that who is in deep thought. The bronze Charioteer of Delphi (470 BC), as well appears to be pondering his victory in the chariot race just ended. His clothing entails fine detail as shown before in the Archaic ornate kore.

The folds of the dress fall with the movement of the body. So from that the action of the being is accentuated and explored as it was developed from the earlier time on. Bronze became the favorite medium of Early Classical sculptors, partly because it was better suited to action poses. In works such as the Discobolus (450 BC), the sculptor Myron depicted an athlete at the moment of greatest potential energy. The Parthenon sculptures and other works from the Acropolis also illustrate changing attitudes toward the display of the female body. Figures such as the goddesses from the Parthenon’s east pediment are covered with drapery that reveals each curve of breast, stomach, and thigh. The Female Figure (650 BC) has more restraint and reserved clothing.

Kore in Dorian Peplos which was also from the Archaic period, though showed the form of the female body. Until the 4th century BC no goddess or heroic female figure was depicted completely naked in Greek art. The first great female nude was a statue of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, by Praxiteles. The Cnidian Aphrodite (340-330 BC), it was the most famous Greek statue of its time. The sculptures became more sincere and gentle.

Even his male figures, such as Hermes (320-310 BC), seem soft and less manly than the hard-bodied athletes of before. After the conquests of Alexander the Great from 334 to 323 BC, the Greek world comprised vast lands and peoples that were mostly non-Greek. Because Hellenistic sculpture had to speak to a far more diverse audience, artists tended to choose subjects that all people could readily understand, figures that depicted old age, anxiety, sleep, fatigue, drunkenness, or even deformity. At the same time, Hellenistic sculptors developed further some of the trends established in the Late Classical period. Hellenistic figures such as the powerfully projecting Nike of Samothrace (200-190 BC) show a unique deepness.

Melodramatic, exaggerated effects are especially associated with the Great Pergamum Alter, built atop the citys acropolis sometime from about 190 to 156 BC. Some figures seem ready to leap off the wall and even crawl up the sides of a staircase. The muscles of the figures are, the drapery sweeping, the poses striking, and the faces expressive. In one scene, the goddess Athena has caught a giant as he gazes helplessly toward the sky as he tries to free himself. His expression resembles that of Laocon, a later statue, shown as he struggles to free himself from giant snakes.

Art Essays.

Greek Art

Over a period of time Greek art of the past has changed and evolved into what we
value in todays society as true art and services as a blue print of our
tomorrow. As we take a closer look at the Geometric Period and stroll up through
the Hellenistic Period allow me to demonstrate the changes and point out how
these transitions have servide the elements of time. During the geometric period
the Greeks style of vase painting was know as Proto-geometric because it was
preceded and anticipated the Geometric style – was characterized by linear
motifs, such as spirals, diamonds, and crosshatching, rather than the stylized
plants, birds, and sea creatures characteristic of minoan vase painting. Artist
of the geometric time period created decative funerary art to be placed at the
tombs of there dead. These pieces were made of ceramic and created in the form
of geometric shapes, hence the time period. One such piece is a vase from the
Dipylon Cemetery, (750 BCE) its over-all shape is like that of a hemisphere
supported by a cylinder. We also notice that the vase is divided into registers
and here the humans are depicted as part of a narrative. The body of the
deceased is placed on its side and set on what would appear to be a pedestal in
the center of the top register. The form used to represent the human figures are
somewhat abstract. For example triangles are used for the torsos, the head is a
triangle in profile, round dots would stand in for the eyes and long thin
rectangles would serve as arms. The figures have tiny waists, and long legs with
bulging thigh and calf muscles. The abstract designs were painted with a clay
slip and to still a page form the Egyptians, all the humans were shown as
full-frontal or full-profile views that emphasize flat patterns and outline
shapes. However unlike the Egyptian funerary art the Greeks focused on the
survivors, not the fate of the dead. During this period it was customary to
create vases that did not contain supernatural beings, nor made reference to the
afterlife that might have provided solace for the bereaved. Another early piece
that surfaced back in the late tenth century was the Centaur, half-human,
half-horse. The Centaur was also created using geometric shapes. The human head
was a round modeled out shape with no strong features or definition. The arms
and torsos are rectangular shaped with no muscle tones or anything that would
tell its viewer that this was a creature of strength. The legs and back animal
half are cylinder shaped with small bulges that would seem to represent perhaps
muscles. The Centaur also displayed on the body painted on geometric shapes.

(cubes, pyramids, diamonds, etc.) As time progressed so did the Greek art, the
time is 470 BCE and we find ourselves in the Classical Era. Here were able to
notice a considerable difference in the Greek art. As artist the Greeks have
moved away from geometric shapes and found themselves using such words as
balance, harmony proportion and cemetery. Artist of the Classical Period took
the geometric shapes and reworked them to there own liking Pan Painter created
the vase Artemis Slaying Actaeon, and in this piece he shows us that there still
using ceramics as artist did in the geometric period only now the figures are
red. The vase of Dipylon used decorative registers with repeating motifs to
narrate; here the registers are still used with a beautiful maze motif but there
made smaller in efforts to place more attrition on the image being displayed.

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The human images on the Dipylon were flat geometric shaped people that had very
little features. Painters vase offered movement, realism, and detail in the
cloth the people wore. Taking a closer look we can now define some of the
techniques used here that were not used early on. Not only are the figures much
larger but now we have balance in our composition. ( Artemis has all her weight
disturbed on her right leg and Actaeon although on the ground uses his left arm
to support himself.) Harmony ( Artemis has her right arm bent as well as her
right leg. The left leg is stiff to go along with the stiff left arm.) Painter
shows us cemetery in his composition ( By dividing the two images in half we see
the composition has the same weight on the left thats on the right.) And
proportion ( both figures evenly scaled.) Unlike artist of the geometric period
Painters art was inspired by the myths of the gods as opposed to early artist
who created funerary art and focused on the survivors. A good artist can take an
image from the past and transform it into a beloved piece of the future. Notice
the triangle shape in Paintings piece that ties both images together. The
Classical period made a big impact on the sculptures of that era. When we look
back at the Centaur of the Geometric Period and compare its human features to
something like the bronze sculpture of Zeus it just doesnt seem fair. No more
full-frontal or full-profile views of images, we now have freestanding
sculptures. No more geometric shapes to represent body parts, we now have muscle
tone and definition. The bronze statue of Zeus was the Classical era at its
best. It displays balance, harmony, cemetery, and proposition as well as it
gives us a sense of realism and naturalism. The artist brings out smooth facial
features and defines the body as having strength and power. Hes anatomically
correct. The use of bronze also allowed artist to twist and turn their models to
create a pose that seemed to capture a nature feeling. Just when it seemed that
things couldn’t get any better artist found themselves making a change from the
Classical Period to the Hellenistic Period. It was at this time that artist
could standup and say that they had truly arrived. The Hellenistic period
produced a Varity styles, techniques, and material. The period was marked by two
broad and conflicting trends. One call anti-classical and the other classical
where the artist would choose a piece and rework it into a new style. Such
styles were like that of the Gallic Chieftain Killing his Wife and Himself. This
piece offers everything that a classical piece would offer only now the artist
is looking for a specific emotional response from the viewer, this know as
expressionism. Hellenistic artist sought the individual and the specific, they
turned away from heroic to the everyday, from gods to mortals. In the Classical
Period we watch Zeus come alive right before our very eyes, this freestanding
statue tough us words like balance, harmony, and proportion, we learned realism,
and naturalism as well as smooth skin and the Canon of proportion. But the
Hellenistic era. has taken all those things and reworked them for the viewer.


The artist takes pieces like the Gallic Chieftain and shows his wife limit body
being supported by her husband as he plunges the sword into his own breast. As a
viewer you fill an emotional bound with the statue and offer your pity and I
think thats the response that the artist was looking for. In conclusion we
have seen art pieces from the Geometric Period and its simples form reworked
into master pieces of the Classical Period. And in the Hellenistic Period we
found out what its like to take a master piece and make it better by touching
the harts of the viewers. But most importantly we’ve learned that we live in a
forever-changing world and to truly know great art is to know good art.

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