Greek Project 1272 ART204 Formal Research Project Essay

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Greek Project 1272

ART204 Formal Research Project Summer Term 2012

Ancient Greek sculpture is one of the most famous historical forms of art. Three main forms of life are represented by this sculpture; war, mythology, and rulers of the land of ancient Greece. The main aim of the paper is to revisit the history of the art of sculpturing in ancient Greece and different steps of its development within different time periods. Some of the main developments in Greek sculpture included depiction of changes in forms, depiction of female and male figures, degrees of present realism, and how sculpturing was used to achieve these effects.

Developments in Greek Sculpturing techniques

There are four main periods in which main developments and changes in the Greek sculpturing took place. The first period is referred to as the geometric period; second period is the archaic period, the third one being the classic and the last and fourth period being the Hellenistic period. The developments of the Greek sculpture will be discussed from the archaic period till the Hellenistic period in this section.

a. The Archaic Period

The inspiration of archaic period came from the stone sculptures that were used to make monuments in Egypt as well as Mesopotamia. Stone carving was very famous in this era in the Greeks. Some of the main characteristics of the Eastern models sculpted in the archaic period consisted of free standing figures sharing frontal stances as well as solidarity. The main difference between these models and the Egyptian models is based on the dynamism shown by these figures. An important example in these cases is that of the sculpture of "Lady of Auxerre." It stands having a height of almost 75 cm (Giannakopoulou 67). It is a limestone Cretan-based sculpture. The sculpture is a representative of the archaic goddess of the period between 650 and 625 BC. It is also referred to as the Kore of Auxerre. The word Kore means maiden. The sculpture shows that the goddess places her right hand on her shoulder plexus while the left hand remains stiff at the other side.

The Lady of Auxerre

After 575 BC, all the sculptures including that of males and females wore archaic smiles. This expression did not depict the situation of an individual and these were only designed to depict and show certain specific characteristics of the human beings (Dillon 39).

In the archaic times, there were three main kinds of figures; Nude standing youth, seated woman and the draped girl who was also referred to as the kore. All three types of figures that were sculpted in past were highly accurate in terms of showing essential human anatomy and essential body parts. In the case of youth statues, it was observed that they were either sepulture or supplicatory. One of the most important examples in these cases is that of Strangford Apollo that was sculpted by Anafi.

Strangford Apollo

This is the example of a sculpture made from marble between 500 and 490 BC. It is reported that the sculpture belongs to the island of Anafi. Naming of the sculpture is after the 6th Viscount Strangford, Percy Smythe. The second important example is Anavyssos Kouros that was sculpted in 530 BC. It was sculpted in Parian marble.

Anavyssos Kouros

One of the main facts in the case of Anavyssos Kouros is that as compared to the other statues, much detailed anatomy is visible. More of skeletal muscles have been focused upon.

From here it can be seen that the archaic period in Greece was dominated by the decision and the main thought of the Greeks that representation of human form was one of the most important forms of art. This belief comes from the fact that most of the Gods of Greeks had a human form based on which the Greek art in the archaic period had no distinction between secular and sacred. Human body was itself considered as sacred and secular. Any male nude that was sculpted could be given the name of a normal human being or a God. It could be Heracles or it could be any normal sportsman. The most important form of sculptures found in the archaic period was that of Kuoros, which refers to the standing nude male. As compared to this, the standing female clothed figure was referred to as kore. It was clothed as the beliefs and cultures of the Greek society in the archaic period did not allow sculpting of the female figure until 4th century BC thereby the importance of kore is much lesser as compared to that of Kuoros (Dillon 45).

The sculpturing in Greece was not without a reason as was also seen in the case of pottery. The statues that were sculpted were the ones asked to be created by the aristocrats, the bureaucrats or by the state. The statues made had many uses as these were used as offering in the temples, in sanctuaries and in temples. The statues are often used as markers for graves of important people. The statues were not made to represent specific individuals. Some of the main elements that were to be mainly represented by the statues were honor, maturity and honor. These were shown by the statues of younger men, early maturity and adolescence.

b. Classical period

There was a great revolution in the statues made in the Greek designs. One of the main reasons was the culture that showed an increase in democracy. This was also based on the fact that there was an end to aristocracy. The styling and functioning of sculpture was changed in the classical period. There was a great increase in the technical skills that were showed by the Greek sculptors as more detailed and realistic human forms were being depicted by the sculptors.

During the classical period, it was seen that the poses were more natural and this was especially important in the beginning of the classical period. Since the period of 500 BC, there was an increase in the depiction of real people within the statues. These statues did not show the typical myths that were being followed in the Greek society at that time and there was no making of fictional votive statues. One of the most important examples in these cases is that of Harmodius and Aristogeiton that was designed in Athens was the one that marked an overthrow of tyrannical aristrocratics. The statues were important representation of the actual individuals.

Harmodius and Aristogeiton

Another important change seen in the classical period was in relation to the use of sculptures as decoration pieces. There are a number of examples of classic temples that include Parthenon located in Athens and Temple of Zeus located in Olympia (Giannakopoulou 90).


Temple of Zeus

There were great challenges that were to be faced in the building and designing of these sculptures and two of the main challenges include technical and aesthetic challenges. Most of the works of the classical period hardly survived. One of the most important examples in these cases is that of the Parthenon Marbles of which only a few fragments have survived and now are present in the British Museum.

Parthenon Marbles

There has been a great evolution in funeral statues in the classic period. The evolution took place from the more rigid kuoros that were made in the archaic period to more personal family-based groups in the classic period. These monuments are usually found in Athen's suburbs. Most of the statues depict important characteristics as a loving son and a caring mother. Thereby, there is a great increase in the level of emotions in the statues as compared to the kind of statues made in the geometric or archaic period. All of the information that is known about the sculptures and statues of the classical period is because of the presence of the status themselves. Some of the main examples include Aphrodite of Knidos that depicts a nude female made by Praxiteles in 4th century BC in Athens.

Aphrodite of Knidos

c. Hellenistic Period

During the 4th century BC, the transition in sculpting art occurred travelling from the classical period to Hellenistic period. This was the period dominated by the fact of conquests by Alexander the great. The art of Greek sculpturing spread to different corners of the world that include India. Thereby increased diversity was seen in the Greek art. The diversity was greatly influenced by the people who were more attracted to the Greek sculpturing art. One of the main facts that have been highlighted by some of the historians is that with an increase in diversity, there was a great reduction in the quality and originality of the Greek sculptures. In this case, not all of the critics and historians do not hold similar views as most of the sculptures that are now considered masterpieces are the ones belonging to the Hellenistic period. Some of the most important examples that show an increase in the technical ability of the green sculptures…[continue]

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