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Greek Art


  1. The Three Classical Architectural "Orders" Graphic.
    DORIC c.630 B.C.  IONIC 550 B.C. CORINTHIAN 400 B.C. 

    Working largely in marble, the Greeks in their temples and public buildings produced some of the world’s finest architecture. There were three styles, or “orders’ - the austere Doric; the light and elegant Ionic; and the more elaborate Corinthian. The Greeks used neither the arch nor the vault, but topped columns or walls with flat beams.

    The oldest and simplest style - used in mainland Greece from the 7th century B.C. is the Doric. The magnificent Parthenon in Athens shows the massive strength and beauty to
    which the Doric style lends itself. 

    Doric and Ionic differ mainly in the capitals, or molded decorations at the head of the columns. The Doric is topped with a square slab, the ionic has decorative spiral

    The Corinthian style is the most elaborate and richly decorated type of Greek capital. It dates from the 4th century. Corinthian columns were more slender than either the Doric or the ionic, and their deeper basket-like capitals were carved with acanthus leaves. This style was extensively adopted by the Romans.
    bullet Periods in Ancient Greek Art


  2. Kouros (Apollo) c. 530 BC, bronze casting, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, Reproduction print.
     The serene spirit of Greece shines from this Apollo, god of the intellect. Cast in bronze 2400 years ago, it was lost 400 years later and found again in 1959.

    The major difference between Egyptian an Greek sculpture is in the free standing of the figure. Openings are seen between the arms and side but more startling is the lack of supports to hold up the figure. Greek artists were now sculpting what they saw, rather than creating stylized forms from memory.

    Kouros were sculpted figures of nude youths about life size who either represented Apollo or an ideal athlete.


  3. Pericles in War Helmet, 5th century BC, sculpture, Reproduction photograph

    In the 5th Century B.C., Athens was at its peak under Pericles. He was an aristocrat and an Athenian imperialist who had a dream of a city that would be worthy of its empire - a city which the allies of Athens would be proud to visit, and where they would see for themselves that the tribute they paid had been expended in creating the most gracious capital on earth. Pericles was also a democrat, at a time when the idea that every freeborn adult male citizen should have a say in the running of the state was a novel one. Most Greek city-states had hitherto been run by groups of powerful aristocratic families or by single absolute rulers, or ‘tyrants.’ In 621 B.C. one Athenian lawgiver, Draco, introduced a code of punishments which included the death penalty for stealing a cabbage - thus making “Draconian’ a byword for extreme severity. One reason why a different form of government evolved in Athens was the fact that the city was primarily a naval power. Its war galleys were rowed by ordinary working men conscripted into the forces! who, since they contributed so much to the state, felt they should have a share in determining how it was run. At the same time the community of Athens was small enough for every citizen to make his voice heard. Fishermen, merchants, jewelers, potters and landowners met on equal terms in the governing assembly, and had equal say in discussions on all important matters. This interchange of ideas between men from all walks of life made Athens a very human world. Not to show an interest in public affairs and matters of state was considered so stupid that our word “idiot” derives from the Greek word meaning ‘a private citizen' — someone who attended only to his own needs and did not bother with those of the city.

    Athens was a talkative town. It was ruled by its orators; Pericles became its leader because he was the best orator. The Age of Pericles was the culmination of the Classical period in Greek sculpture and architecture. Athens was safe and prosperous~ and the arts were admired and loved as never before and seldom since.

    Pericles is said to have had a deformed head which may explain the helmet incorporated in his sculpture.


  4. Mastoid Cup, pottery, Reproduction print
    bullet Had to be drunk completely, no way to lay it down


  5. Silhouette of classic pottery shapes - 15 basic shapes, Graphic


  6. Horsemen in the Panathenic Procession (Elgin Marble), detail of Relief sculpture from west Parthenon, marble 39" High, British Museum, London, Reproduction print.
    This print shows the detail of an interior marble frieze taken from west side of the Parthenon, Athens. The frieze around the inner wall depicts a procession occurring every four years, in which the youth of Athens pay tribute to Athena. The relief sculpture shows a multitude of figures and horses; one of the most impressive sections depicts horses and riders, sometimes four abreast. To sculpt this much depth in the shallow space of a few inches took all the skill that the Classical Greek sculptors could muster. Anatomy, movement, rhythm, and a convincing suggestion of space are all handled with superb control. The figures closest to the viewer are most round; the second and third layers are shallower; and the background is flat. Originally, the frieze, like other parts of the Parthenon, was brightly painted.
    bulletThe importance of the Elgin Marbles - Panathenic friezes


  7. The Parthenon,  447-432 BC, marble architecture 200' long x 100' wide, Acropolis, Athens,  Reproduction photograph.
     After the Persian invaders withdrew from Greece in 479 B.C., the Greeks swore not to rebuild the sanctuaries that had been destroyed, but to leave the ruins as a memorial of
    their sacrilege. Thirty years later Pericles persuaded the Athenians to cancel the oath and to initiate a vast building program on the Acropolis, financing it with surplus funds accumulated in the treasury. The first phase, completed during the life of Pericles, included a monumental gateway, the Propylaea, and a new temple of Athena to replace the one that was still unfinished when the Persians sacked Athens in 480 BC.

    The PARTHENON, as the temple has been known since Roman times, was the work of the architects Ictinus and Callicrates. Begun in 447 B.C., it must have been substantially complete by 438 B.C. when the statue of the goddess, Athena. was dedicated in it. The building accounts, which were inscribed on marble slabs and are still in part preserved, show that work continued until 432 B.C.

    The PARTHENON, was always meant to be imposing. Built on the highest point of the Acropolis, (“High City” - place of refuge in times of war, later spiritual center of city) it
    was considerably larger than most Doric temples and had eight columns across the front and seventeen along the sides ~ instead of the more usual six and thirteen. Inside the
    colonnade the central structure was divided by a cross wall into two rooms of unequal size, each having a porch of six columns. The smaller chamber, on the west, served as a
    treasury, while the larger eastern room housed the gold and ivory statue of Athena some twelve meters high, made by the sculptor Pheidias. The temple was constructed of marble
    throughout was remarkable not only for the refinement of its design and the quality of its workmanship but also for the unprecedented quantity of sculpture that adorned it.

    The PARTHENON stood virtually intact for over two thousand years, although it was transformed into a Christian church and later into a mosque. Disaster struck in 1687 when a Venetian shell exploded the gunpowder that the besieged Turkish garrison had stored in the building. From then on the condition of the temple and its surviving sculptures gradually deteriorated, so that their survival is largely due to Lord Elgin, who rescued them from destruction by vandals. He brought the sculptures to England and eventually sold them to the British government. They are now housed at the British Museum, London.

    bullet The Parthenon - structural overview & pics


  8. Alexander the Great and Philosopher, photocopy
     Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), was a student of  Aristotle, and the son of Philip of Macedonia. Philip was assassinated during battle. Alexander assumed leadership and began to assimilate conquered people. He went to India and died on his return to Macedonia (N Greece) in his 30s. 
    bullet Alexander the Great - bio, pics and links
    bullet additional info for Alexander


  9. "Victorious Athlete Crowning Himself"  c 310 BC, Lysippos, Bronze sculpture, J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Reproduction print
     Cast using the "Lost Wax" method 

    The Victorious Youth is a life-sized, bronze nude male figure found in the 1960s in the sea off Fano on Italy's Adriatic coast and acquired by the Getty Museum in 1977 - provenance and date are in dispute by authorities


  10. Venus de Milo, 2nd cent. BC, possibly Alexandros of Antioch or Praxiteles, Greek, 6'10" high marble, Louvre, Paris. Reproduction Photograph
    The statue of Aphrodite of Melos (left), also known as the Venus de Milo is an example of Hellenistic art. Hellenistic art was art of all ages, from children to elders, unlike classical art where only middle aged people were sculpted. Hellenistic art was attractive to the lower classes, like peasants, slaves, farmers, and herdsmen, instead of the richer classes, similar to kings and rulers. Hellenistic art displays naturalism, where the statue comes to life. 
    Expressed in the art is movement and objects
    that are within. Another characteristic of this style is that rather than the sculpture being aimed solely toward beauty; Hellenistic art reveals expressions of ugliness, fat, and age - more representative of how people really looked.
    The Aphrodite of Melos is made of marble and represents the goddess Aphrodite. This statue had earned it’s name the Venus de Milo or Venus de Melos, from its discovery in 1820 by a peasant on the Greek island of Melos. The statue shows Aphrodite semi-nude, with a robe wrapped around her legs. For hundreds of years the statue had remained buried in an underground cavern which caused significant damage. It was found in two parts, re-placed together and sent to France. The Marquis de Rivière had brought the statue as a gift for Louis XVIII of France. Pieces of arms and a pedestal with an inscription, were also found in the cave, but these were later lost.

    The sculptor of the statue is unknown but the name of the Greek artist Alexandros of Antioch was said to have been inscribed on the now-lost block of stone on the pedestal. Scholars suggest however that the pedestal and statue may not have been one originally. Some scholars have attributed the work of the statue to Praxiteles. It is said that it was sculpted around the second century B.C.

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