classical Greek art lecture

Classical Greek Art
ARCHAIC -600-500 BCE
Classical Greek art makes everything HAP-N
Greecewhat was it about?
The exaltation of humanity/rational man as the “measure of all things.”
The being who has the intellectual power to create balance and order in the individual and in the
society as a whole.
2. Balance...
of mind and body--of the intellect and physical strength/beauty was of supreme importance to the
“... for we are lovers of the beautiful... we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness... We are the
school of Greece.” ... Peracles
Why Nude?
beauty comes from nature
Focus on this world
Close observation of the natural world
Constant strive for perfection
Concern for human related ideas/concerns etc.
Humanity is what matters
Democracy demo=people
Visible means of conveying perfection
Perfection was:
Important features of Greek art
What is beautiful?
That which “aims at its purpose” Aristotle
How do the gods play into this?
When we strive for perfection
“By searching for the Good we are better equipped to understand the
world.” Plato
Two ways of achieving that purpose
Exploring the physical (Aristotle)
Exploring the metaphysical (Plato)
So what is Archaic art seeking to do
and why?
So what is Archaic art
seeking to do and why?
Kritios Boy
Classical Greek
450 BCE
KEY Piece
final break with Egyptian art.
•Contrapposto stance
•(or counterbalance is shown with the
dip in the right hip and the bent leg, the
artist has captured the weight shift and
has carved this shift in marble.)
•Slight Turn of the head
•Transitions from the Archaic to the
•Very naturalistic- sculpted form live
models- little idealism.
•Called Kritios Boy, because it was
once thought to have been carved by a
man named Kritios.
Riace Warrior
Classical Greek
450 BCE
•Classical period
begins c.450 BCE
New break away from the former
unnatural, stiff, and immovable
Egyptian stances
-Here the warriors are in a much more
natural pose that is termed
contrapposto-how humans really
-The larger image is a hollow-bronze
cast-the teeth are inlaid with silver; the
lips and nipples are made out of
-The figure almost seems to be in
-No longer see the Archaic smile
-They are impossibly perfect which
shows the movement away from a
“naturalizing” tendency at the
beginning of the Classical period and
towards a more “idealized” focus.
Spear Bearer or Doryphoros
Classical Greek- 450 BCE
Roman copy of the original
-Can see the sculptor striving for
perfection found in the human form
-Contrapposto pose
-See opposition in all of the figure's limbscreates a very fluid, but dynamic, posture.
-Though natural stance, the figure is still
idealized and would not be found in
Demonstration piece to accompany a
treatise on the subject of the ideal statue
-Created through the utilization of math,
not sculpted from real life, hence the
statue is perfect.
Called the Canon in its day- meant to be
the inspiration for athletes-He is both a warrior and an athlete and
his hand once held a spear
-He averts your gaze, you may admire
him, but he does not recognize the
-no emotion just perfection of human
How can I remember that?
Sing the song!
Polyclitus wrote the Canon
Sculpture too! Spear bearer!
Ideal proportions make the
perfect human
Seven heads tall, seven heads
Discus Thrower or
Classical Greek
450 BCE
-This is a Roman copy of the original
statue that no longer exists.
-The trunk of the tree was added for
-Everything about the figure is in
motion-captured at the peak moment of
the movement.
-See influence from Archaic style
because the chest faces the onlooker,
not truly statue in the round, it is meant
to be viewed from the front
-No real expression because it is a
timeless moment
-Unlike Archaic style because the disc
thrower is more concerned about the
actual throw than the viewers watching
-The arms and legs form an
intersection of arcs-more energy.
Athena, Herakles, and Atlas
from the Temple of Zeus
Classical Greek
450 BCE
-Atlas returning to Herakles with the
apples of Hesperides: Herakles held the
world up (with a cushion so soften the
discomfort) for Atlas while he was
-Transitional phase between the stiff
Archaic and the more relaxed Classical
-Athena’s body is revealed under her
robes, and heavily idealized bodies of
Atlas and Herakles
-No Archaic smile
-Figures appear to contemplate,
another dimension that makes them not
Doric- the capital is shaped like a
side ways letter “D”
Ionic- the whole thing is shaped like
the letter “I”
Corinthian- the acanthus leaves on
the capital look like little “C”’s
Iktinos & Kallikrates
Classical Greek- 420 BCE
Key Piece
Perfectly proportioned
Built to replace earlier temple
destroyed by the Persians
-Combination of Doric and Ionic styles
-Columns are more slender than the
original attempts
-Located on the Acropolis
-Algebra was used to find the perfect
proportions with the following
equation: x = 2y +1
(the temple’s short ends have 8
columns; the long sides have 17
-There is curvature to the entire
building - optical illusion because it
looks perfectly vertical and horizontal;
this gives it a feeling of being more
Athena Parthenos (or the Virgin)
Classical Greek
438 BCE
longer exists
•We know about it from descriptions
from Roman and Greek authors and
from Roman copies
•Chryselephantine statue
•Stood 38 feet tall
•Was at the heart of the Parthenon
•Holds winged Nike in her right hand
(victory over the Persians)
•On sandals was depicted
Amazonomachy (when Theseus drove
the Amazons out of Athens)
•On inside of shield was painted
•All these references refer back to the
defeat of the Persians by the Athenians
Helios and His Horses
pediment of Parthenon
Classical Greek 420 BCE
Can see the arms of Helios rising out of the earth as his chariot pulls
the sun across the sky
-The male figure on the left is either Dionysus or Herakles.
-The horses show signs of being awake and refreshed with the
beginning of their day.
-Natural flow within the shape of the pediment
-Natural poses with the figures (no Archaic smile)
The Seated Goddessess
pediment of the Partheneon
Classical Greek
420 BCE
Most likely Aphrodite, Dione, and
-The figures are in a reclining position
to show an even more natural pose.
-The sculptor was able to capture the
anatomy associated with the female
-The draperies across the bodies are a
significant contrast to the texture of
their skin, and there is a dramatic use
of dark and light between the folds of
the fabric.
-Clinging wet drapery reveals the
voluptuous bodies beneath
Nike Adjusting her Sandal
from the Temple of Athena
Classical Greek
c. 420 BCE
Graceful figure in high relief
-Deeply incised drapery, wet to show the body of the
female figure
-Frozen narrative needs the viewer to add the
information necessary to tell a story
The Propylaia
Classical Greek
c. 420 BCE
Temple to Athena as well as smaller gods
Celebrates the victory of Athena over Poseidon for the
patronage of the city
-Very asymmetrical (partially due to being built on
uneven ground)
-The porch on the south side has women who replace
columns they are called caryatids.
-Can see the shift in weight on the caryatids to look
natural; however, they are still "stiff" enough to
support the weight of the roof
-Located on the Acropolis
Peloponnesian War
Friction began to build up between Athens and the
other city-states of Greece.
Athens became the dominate power as in they
dominates their neighbors and allies, both
economically and militarily
Sparta and her allies had enough and fought
Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to
the war's beginning, was reduced to a state of
near-complete subjection, while Sparta became
established as the leading power of Greece.
The economic costs of the war were felt all across
Greece; poverty became widespread in the
Peloponnese, while Athens found itself
completely devastated, and never regained its
pre-war prosperity.
Greek warfare was transformed into an all-out
struggle between city-states, complete with
atrocities on a large scale. Shattering religious
and cultural taboos, devastating vast swathes of
countryside, and destroying whole cities, the
Peloponnesian War marked the dramatic end to
the fifth century BC and the golden age of Greece.
But how did this affect art?
In the 5th Century, Greeks believed they could impose order on
their environment, create Perfect statues such as the Canon and
discover the correct formulas for constructing temples, as in the
 War, plague, famine brought about an end to the focus on Greek
community and more of a focus on the individual and on real
world appearances rather than on the ideal world of perfect
 New Humanization of art- Praxiteles
He did not reject the themes of the earlier Classical sculptors;
rather his statues lost some of their superhuman perfection and
started to become even more real
Hermes and the Infant Dionysus
Late Classical Greek- 350 BCE
Key Piece
High Classical sculpture (fourth
-See a natural "S-curve" to the body of
Hermes as he relaxes from a walk.
-Actually are able to see a relationship
between an adult and child-more
-Able to see the different textures of
skin, fabric, and hair carved out of
-During this era, artists focus less on
the major gods, and more on the minor
-The viewer must walk around the
statue to understand its entirety. Not
just frontal
Aphrodite of Knidos
Late Classical Greek 350
Key Piece
This was the first time Aphrodite was
sculpted completely nude.
-In previous art, if a woman was in the
nude, she was of a very low class
standing; here, a goddess!
People were said to have openly fallen
in love with her
Described as having soft skin and wet
dewy eyes.
-Statue was once housed in a round
temple and could only have been seen
by someone who was peeking around
columns to see her; voyeuristic
-Not openly erotic
-She adverts her gaze, does not
challenge your gaze
-She is trying to cover herself as she
pulls the cloak off the water jug
-Modest- a hand covers her pelvic
region but you can still see pelvis
The Scraper (Apoxymenos)
Late Classical Greek 330 BCE
Key Piece
Breaks the dominance of frontal view,
truly sculpture in the round, this
creates a statue that must be viewed
from all sides
-Thinner form, smaller head, elongated
body, sleek and lanky, eyes closely set,
a break from the Praxiteles cannon
-Athlete is scrapping off oil after a
competition or bath
-Arms extend into space
-head is one-eighth of the body
-even though it is truly a break from
tradition the figure still maintains a
Contrapposto stance
End of Classical Greece
Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE
 The Greeks suffered a devastating loss- as a
result they lost their independence to Phillip
of Macedon
 Phillip was assassinated- but his son
Alexander took over

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