Art 201, handout 5, early greek art to 480 bce geometric Age

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Geometric Age: the period c. 900-700 BCE, when Greek art was dominated by geometric motifs primarily on painted pottery. Around 800 BCE geometricized figural scenes appear (Dipylon Vase, c. 750 BCE), generally illustrating funerals. By around 750-700 BCE Greek artists were trying to depict scenes of myth (Centaur and Man, c. 750 BCE), but the limitations of the Geometric style hampers our ability to recognize the scenes.
The Orientalizing Period: the 7th century BCE, when Greek art adapted many motifs and techniques learned from the ancient Near East and Egypt to Greek usage. Artistic leaders in this century were the artists of Corinth, who invented the black-figured technique c. 675 BCE, and whose vases generally are decorated with multiple friezes of animals (pitcher, c. 600 BCE) The Corinthians exported many vases to Italy.
The Archaic Age: the 6th century BCE and down to the end of the Persian Wars in 480 BCE. A period when the city-states characteristic of Greek society develop their characteristic political forms, the oligarchy (rule of the wealthy few), and the democracy (rule of the people).
Black-figured technique: the vase painter drew the figures in silhouette with the black gloss (lustrous slip-often called “glaze”). Details were then incised through the gloss with a graver. Most notable artists were Athenians during the mid-6th century BCE, especially Exekias (Suicide of Ajax, c. 540 BCE) and the Amasis Painter (Dionysos and Maenads, c. 540 BCE). Superceded by as a leading artistic technique red-figured after c. 520 BCE. Black figured vases were produced into the first half of the fifth century BCE, and some of the later examples have lively scenes of everyday life.
Red-figured technique: the reverse of black-figured. Figures were outlined on the red ground (surface) of the vase in black gloss with a brush, and the internal details of figures also drawn with a brush. Artists were able to depict more 3-D poses and details of the anatomy with this technique. For example, the gloss could be diluted to create less visible lines, and used to model a figure’s three-dimensionality. Developed ca. 530 BCE, with the finest work done c. 515-490 (Euphronios, "Death of Sarpedon", c. 515 BCE), and declined as an art medium after c. 480 BCE, although red-figure continued to be made into the 4th century BCE.
Kore: a statue of a clothed young woman. Early korai stand still and their bodies tend to look columnar (Berlin Kore, c. 560 BCE; Peplos kore, c. 530 BCE.). Later korai lift their skirts with their left hands and daintily stride (Kore from Chios, c. 520 BCE). They probably mainly depict priestesses (and hence commemorate a woman’s service to religion), although some were used on graves (Berlin Kore). The type could be used to depict a goddess, and it is clear that, when a kore “depicted” a human, the “portrait” was not realistic.
Kouros: a statue of a nude young man, which during the Archaic Age stride forward and look straight ahead of themselves. The stauary type was borrowed from Egyptian sculpture in the late 7th century BCE, but immediately adapted to reflect the values of Greek culture. Beginning around 600 BCE (New York Kouros) the anatomy of the type was constantly improved on until it was correct (c. 500 BCE), although the pose remained unnaturally stiff and frontal. The Kroisos Kouros (c. 530 BCE) shows nearly correct anatomy in a funerary statue of a young warrior who died in battle. Again, these were not portraits in our sense, but, like the korai, showed an ideal image of a type of human being.


The Greek Temple: a simple form of religious architecture which derived its monumentality from its architectural decorative systems (Doric or Ionic orders). Geometric temples (9th-8th centuries BCE) were small wooden structures that survive only in the form of small ceramic models of buildings, but those consistently take the form of a single room for a cult statue and a front porch supported by two columns. This basic format, which resembles the earlier megaron of Mycenaean

palaces, then was embellished in the seventh century BCE in some centers by the addition of a wooden colonnade (Greek=peristyle) around the whole building. Greek religious ceremonies took place in front of the temple at an open-air altar, and the temple served to hold an image (statue) of the god, that the god could occupy to watch the ceremonies. By 600 BCE, probably influenced by memories of Egyptian temples some Greeks had seen, major temples were being built in stone. The larger Greek temples had a colonnade surrounding the actual sanctuary, which consisted of a rectangular room (cella) containing a cult statue of the god, fronted by an an open porch which allowed the statue to gaze out at an altar in front of the temple where the actual religiuos ceremonies took place. Greek temples often had an open porch in back of the cella which was not connected to it by a door. This room was used for the storage of precious dedications to the god. It is important to remember that only large temples had columns around their central cult buildings; small temples continued to take the original form of the temple, that is a simple cult room with a two columned porch, like the Temple of Athena Nike in Athens, 420s BCE.

The Doric Order: an austere and geometrically ordered style of architecture developed on the Greek mainland and in the colonies in Italy. Characteristic is the simple, blocky capital, and the triglyph and metope frieze (Temple of Apollo, Delphi; Temple of Hera I, Paestum, 550 BCE).
The Ionic Order: a more ornate and decorative style of architecture most common in the Greek islands and the Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor. The columns stood on bases and had capitals with volutes (spirals) and other carved ornament. Smaller Ionic temples (Temple of Athena Nike, Athens, 420s BCE) and Treasuries at great sanctuaries (Treasury of the Siphnians, Delphi, c. 530 BCE) often had sculpted friezes. The latter also had statues of priestesses in place its columns.
Pedimental Sculpture: stone sculpture was placed in the triangular area of a Greek temple defined by the cornices. Beginning c. 580 BCE with the high relief group on the Temple of Artemis at Korfu, which shows three scenes in differing scales (notably the great central figure of Medusa famed by panthers), the Greek artists gradually developed unified compositions that fit the triangular space. The East Pediment of the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina (c. 480 BCE) shows a unified battle scene with all the figures in the same scale, and also shows an interest in depicting pain realistically (Dying Warrior).
The Battle of Gods and Giants: the Gods defeat an attack by the evil Giants; becomes an allegory for the triumph of Good over Evil. The Siphnian Treasury at Delphi (c. 530 BCE) included a relief frieze depicting the Battle of Gods and Giants. The figures on this show an interest in three-dimensional poses, although, like all Greek friezes, the action takes place in a limited space.
Athena: virgin goddess of wisdom and crafts, patroness of heroes and the city of Athens.
The Parthenon, Athens: a large Doric temple built on the Acropolis (citadel) of Athens 447-432 BCE, and dedicated to Athena the Virgin. Designed by the architects Ictinus and Callikrates, it had many "visual refinements" or deviations from strict rectangularity (such as cigar-shaped columns which lean in slightly, bowed top of foundations etc.) to give the temple an appearance of organic life. The Parthenon also has an Ionic frieze running around the top of the exterior of the building inside the colonnade. This depicts an ideal rendering of a parade which took place each year in

honor of Athena, and forms part of the sculptural program of the Parthenon, which was designed by Phidias. This sculptural program is the most complete and finest expression of the noble idealism of the High Classical Age (c. 450-400 BCE), and can be seen in on the frieze (Horsemen), and the pedimental sculpture (Three Goddesses).
The Propylaea, Athens: a monumental gateway to the Athenian Acropolis built by Mnesicles 437-432 BCE. It has Doric facades akin to those of Greek temples, but the columns in the passageway are Ionic. On its north side, by the entrance to the Acropolis, was a room used as a picture gallery, the world's first art museum.
The Erechtheum, Athens: an Ionic temple of odd form due to the multiple gods worshipped in it. Built c. 421-405 BCE, it is notable for its exquisitely carved ornament, and Porch of the Maidens, which uses statues of priestesses in place of columns.
The Corinthian Order: developed ca. 400 BC, distinguished from Ionic by its use of a capital or top of the column which features vegetation and flowers; otherwise uses the same decorative system as Ionic. Not used extensively by the Greeks, and mainly for ornate buildings or in interiors (the Tholos, Delphi, begun c. 390 BCE), more popular in later Roman architecture. The Lysikrates Monument in Athens (336 BCE) was a piece of architectural sculpture, rather than a true building.
Greek Theaters: built into the natural slopes of hillsides, monumental theaters such as the Theater at Epidaurus (c. 300 BCE), which appeared in Greek cities after 400 BCE illustrate the generally out-of-doors nature of ancient Greek life and their disinterest in interior spaces in architecture. Like all Greek architecture, theaters were simple structures with stone seats in tiers on the hillside arranged around a circular dance floor (orchestra) backed by a scene building.
The Severe Style: a descriptive term for the sculpture of the Early Classical Age (c. 480-450 BCE), when statues had serious, almost pouting expressions, and very heavy, doughy drapery . Kritios' Boy (c. 480 BCE) shows the beginning of Classical art, and already has the contrapposto stance which distinguishes Classical statues from the earlier works of the Archaic Age. This new pose is further refined in the Riace Warrior of ca. 450 BCE. The Delphi Charioteer of c. 475 BCE shows the new drapery. Early Classical sculpture also shows the human body in new action poses, as seen in the sculpture from the west pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (c. 460 BCE). At times, although believable, these action poses prove on close analysis to be exaggerated (Discus Thrower by Myron, c. 450 BCE).
The Pan Painter: Athenian Red-figure painter of the first half of the 5th century BCE. His vases after 480 BCE show the new Severe style, both in expression and themes, but also lingering Archaic decoration in the drapery folds: Artemis and Actaeon (ca. 470 BCE).
Herakles: muscular Greek hero whose deeds illustrated man's ability to control his environment. Especially important after 550 B.C. Considered to have become a god through the greatness of his deeds (Metope from Zeus Temple showing Herakles receiving the Apples of the Herperides, Olympia, ca. 465 BCE). On the negative side, overfond of wine and oversexed; had many descendents.
The Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs: one of the Greek myths that became an allegory for the triumph of civilization over savagery. Centaurs were half-horse, half-men who came to the wedding feast of the King of the Lapiths, got drunk, groped the Lapith women and were exterminated by the Lapiths for their misbehavior (West Pediment, Temple of Zeus at Olympia, c. 460 B.C.E., Parthenon metope, c. 445 BCE).
Spearbearer of Polykleitos: preserved only in Roman copies, this important High Classical statue (c. 450-440 BCE) was also called the "Canon", because its proportions set a standard for nude male statues for the next century. This demonstrates the curious fact that the naturalistic and ideal statues of the Classical Age were constructed from mathematical ratios rather than from observation of real humans. Original statue was bronze.
The Rich Style: an odd and artificial style in Greek sculpture c. 425-375 BCE. The Rich Style was characterized by a rich patterning of folds which lie tight over the female body. At times the ladies seem to be wearing wet T-shirts (Sandelbinder from the Nike Temple Balustrade, c. 410 BCE), in other examples the style comes closer to that of the Parthenon pediments, the point of origin for the Rich Style (i.e. the Porch of the Maidens, Erechtheum, c. 420 BCE).
White Ground lekythoi: a type of oil vase frequently used as a burial gift in 5th century BCE. Athens. Figures were painted on a chalky white surface in pastel colors; the figures are noble, and the compositions are alluringly natural but stereotyped (Woman and Maid by the Achilles Painter, c. 440 BCE).

The Mausoleum, Halikarnassos: an elaborate tomb built in one of the Greek cities of Asia Minor between 358 and 351 BCE for a non-Greek king named Mausolus. Became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and gave us our word for an elaborate funerary building. It consisted of an Ionic temple (which could not be entered) atop a tall podium 126 X 105 feet at its base. Four notable Greek sculptors each decorated a side of the structure, adorning it with several sculpted friezes (Battle of Greeks and Amazons), as well as with large free-standing figures which depicted Mausolus' ancestors (so-called "Mausolus"). Unfortunately, we cannot identify which of the surviving work belongs to each sculptor. A notable example of the spread of Greek art and culture to non-Greek peoples.
Battle of Greeks and Amazons: one of the frieze subjects on the Mausoleum, this mythic story of conflict between eastern warrior women and Greek heroes was often used as a means to express conflicts between Near Easterners (such as the Persians) and Greeks. But the story also had interesting sexual overtones…
Praxiteles: Athenian sculptor active ca. 370-320 BCE. His most famous work, the Aphrodite of Knidos (c. 360 BCE), was the first nude image of the goddess of love and beauty; it survives only in Roman copies. Another work, the Hermes and the infant Dionysos (c. 330 BCE), is probably by a pupil of Praxiteles, but shows the master's graceful and languid style. It presents a natural human interaction between a youth and a baby, although both are supposed to be divine.
Lysippus: bronze sculptor of the second half of the 4th century BCE who established a new, slimmer set of proportions for the ideal male form. His Apoxyomenos (Athlete Scraping Himself, c. 330 BCE) shows these new proportions, which replaced those established by the Spearbearer of Polykleitos. He also created famous portraits of Alexander the Great, that may survive in diluted form in copies.
Rape of Persephone: a painting which decorates the interior a tomb at Vergina in Macedonia of c. 350 BCE. It shows the God of the Underworld carrying off the goddess (to marry her) in an impressionistic and momentary style with dynamic pose and shading, but without any natural setting.

The Tomb of Philip II: a built tomb in a mound at the capital of Macedonia of ca. 340-330 BCE, it was probably the tomb of Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Philip was assassinated in 336 BCE. Its façade takes the form of a Doric Temple, but above the triglyphs and metopes is an Ionic frieze, painted to show a (heroic) hunt.


The Hellenistic Age: the period from the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great (336-323 BCE) to the final conquest of the Greek World by Rome (31 BCE). In this period Greek culture and art expanded throughout the eastern Mediterranean, and Greek art became increasingly secular (non-religious), including genre (everyday life) subject matter (Veiled Dancer, c. 200 BCE).
Portraiture: although portraits are known in the Greek world from the 5th century BCE, they became increasingly more important after 400 BCE, as individuals became more important in Greek life. Portraits were often idealized, and could be made centuries after the death of the person to serve as a role-model (Head of Alexander the Great, 2nd BCE). Images of rulers often combined references to the person, and the traditions of athletic/martial heroism (Hellenistic Ruler, ca. 150 BCE).
The Alexander Mosaic: made of small cut stone squares, and found in a Roman house at Pompeii, where it decorated a floor. Most scholars agree that it is a close copy of a Greek painting of the late 4th century BCE (probably a painting doe by Philoxenos of Eretria in 316 BCE). For this reason, it shows one of the problems in evaluating Roman painting, since it copies an earlier painting. It shows, in a limited three-dimensional space with no real landscape, Alexander and Darius nearly coming to blows at the Battle of Issus in 333 BCE. Like the Rape of Persephone, the Alexander Mosaic has three-dimensional poses and shading, but it is a depiction of an actual historical event, not a mythic story.
Stag Hunt Mosaic: a floor in a wealthy house at Pella, the capital of Macedon, this pebble mosaic of ca. 300 BCE is signed by the artist Gnosis, and shows two heroically nude greks in dynamic poses slaughtering a stag. As usual, there is no natural setting for the action.
Hellenistic "Baroque" Style: a dynamic and dramatic style which developed in the later 3rd century BCE, especially in the Kingdom of Pergamon in northern Asia Minor. The Kings of Pergamon used this "Baroque" style to celebrate their military victories, The most notable monument of the style, the Altar of Zeus at Pergamon (c. 180-150 BCE), had a large frieze depicting the Battle of Gods and Giants (Athena and Alcyoneus). An earlier victory monument (c. 225 BCE) had freestanding figures which survive only in Roman copies (Dying Gaul, Gaul Killing Himself). Another dramatic victory monument, the Nike (Victory) of Samothrace (c. 190 BCE), apparently was made on the island of Rhodes south of Asia Minor and shows that the style was used by other centers of Hellenistic sculpture. A later Rhodian work, the Laokoon group (original 1st BCE?) demonstrates that the style survived into the Roman period, since it was copied several times for Romans.
Altar of Zeus, Pergamon: an enormous Ionic altar c.180-150 the Greek Father of the Gods in a city in Asia Minor. Approximately 100 feet square, its colonnade stood atop a tall podium and was entered by steps at one side. On the exterior, it was adorned by a frieze in high relief which depicted an overlifesize Battle of Gods and Giants in a dramatic "Baroque" style (Athena and Alcyoneous).
Neoclassical Style: a style of Greek sculpture which looked back to Classical sculpture, particularly of the 4th BCE and used it for inspiration. The Venus de Milo (c. 150 BCE) is a good example of this derivative style. Neoclassical style was adopted by Augustus for his official sculpture for propaganda reasons (Ara Pacis, Augustus of Primaporta).

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