Greek civilization begins the continuous tradition leading to our own day. We have extensive evidence about the Greeks--books, original artworks, and copies. We owe many of our ideas, life-structures, and words to them. (list Greek words to be found in the university catalogue--) Key concepts: competition; Olympic Games; rivalry, war, "progress", politics, democracy, mathematics, philosophy, music, art, theater. Politically, Greece was composed of small City-States, chief of which were Athens and Sparta. The Greek view of man is reflected in Greek Art: Man was held to be reasoning and intelligent with, above all, the desire to know through imitation (Mimesis). Aristotle said, "All men by nature desire to know." The word beauty meant to the Greeks not only good looking, but good in a moral sense, as well as "well-born." Important parts of beauty were proportion, symmetry, and harmony. While exhibiting great skill in the representation of nature, particularly the human body, Greek artists also sought the perfect norm, and the general, rather than the particular; thus Greek Art is both realistic and idealistic at the same time. The chief difference between Greek art and previous art is its rapid development and change (compare Egypt). "They had embarked on a road from which there was no turning back." as E. H. Gombrich has said.
During the Geometric period, monumental grave markers were introduced in the form of large vases. Like this one, they were often decorated with representations of myths and customs related to Greek funerary practice. This vase was made to mark a grave in Attica, the region around Athens. The main scene, which occupies the widest portion of the vase, shows a prothesis , or vigil of the dead. The deceased has been laid out on a high bier surrounded by members of his household and, at either side, mourners. For optimal clarity, the dead man is shown on his side and the checkered shroud that would normally cover the body has been raised and regularized into a long rectangle with two projections. The figure seated at the dead man's feet may be his wife, and the smaller figure on her lap their child. The figures' circular heads and triangular chests are characteristic of the Geometric style, which takes its name from the shapes that constitute its artistic language. In a band below the prothesis , chariots stand hitched to teams of horses and foot soldiers carry large cutaway shields and spears shaped like arrows. The figures may refer to the military exploits of the deceased; however, as hourglass shields and chariots played a more limited role at this time than in the earlier Bronze Age, the scene more likely evokes the glorious ancestry and traditions to which the dead man belonged. Dipylon Krater , Athens, 740. B.C.
GEOMETRIC PERIOD/STYLE VASE PAINTING (750 B.C.) Dipylon Vase , Dipylon cemetery, Athens, 8th c. B.C. Between handles, funeral bier mourning scene for a woman; animal frieze at neck; rich ornament, much of it meander pattern. Note the abstracted pattern image of rich textiles on/over the bier as canopy; we often, also, compare the geometric pots' ornament schemes to (lost) textile patterns. [Funerals: the body was laid out in the home on a draped bier, and mourners keened around it (women tearing at hair and clothes) - for aristocrats, for several days - while friends, relatives and 'clients" came to pay respects. Then the body was taken in procession to the cemetery, with a parade of clan members and display of grave gifts, to be burned on a pyre; bones & ashes and grave goods were then buried and (for persons of any wealth) a marker set on top - in the Archaic period, sometimes a kouros or kore, sometimes a stele with an image of the deceased. The family regularly returned to feast the dead person at the tomb and feed them by pouring libations of wine and other liquids.
Another schematic figure piece at a tiny scale. Solid cast bronze. Possibly it is Herakles battling a centaur, half-horse half-human. If composite animals are common, the half horse half human is a Greek invention. Unlike previous cultures the figures here are shown nude, a continuing Greek convention. The odd depiction of a man with a horses rear end is odd…..the artist had never seen one.
ORIENTALIZING PERIOD/STYLE VASE PAINTING (700-600 B.C.) Corinthian black figure amphora with animal frieze , Rhodes, c. 625-600 B.C. The Corinthian black-figure amphora with animal friezes dates back to 625-600 B.C. It is approximately 14" high. The amphora was found on the island of Rhodes at the opposite side of the Aegean mainland Corinth. It is organized in the old Geometric style organized in a series of horizontal bands. On the neck has many animals and other composite creatures. It is a black-figure pot. The black stuff is neither a pigment nor a glaze, but engobe, a slip of finely sifted clay that originally is of the same color as the clay of the pot. It becomes black after being fired in three phases . As in all Orientalizing art, the figures--monsters and animals-are lined up in horizontal processions marching quietly from one side to the other. Such rows of animals had long been a standard feature of oriental art, especially in the Near East. This pot is inspired by the eastern monster of the lamassu and the sphinx.
Mantiklos Apollo," beginning of the 7th century BC The Mantiklos Apollo was created when the pace and scope of Greek trade and colonization had accelerated and when Greek artists were exposed more than ever before to Eastern artworks, especially small, portable objects such as Syrian ivory carvings Mantiklos’ Apollo is a youth dedicated by Mantiklos c 700-670 BCE. It is inscribed and the figure nude. It is a god in human form. “Mantiklos dedicated me as a tithe to the far-shooting Lord of the Silver Bow; you Phoibos [Apollo] might give some pleasing favor in return.” There is little attempt at anatomy and holes for inlays. About 700-680BC the Greek sculptors were producing figurines with more and more details, and, with closer attention paid to the human anatomy. The artist included such details as the long braided hair and, pectoral and abdomen muscles that give definition to the triangular torso
. Near Eastern influences can also be seen in the seated limestone goddess from Prinias of 650-625 BC. Typically in the Near East, stone lions were used to guard gates to temples and palaces. On the face of the lintel trios of “Orientalizing panthers with frontal heads” march toward the center. Greeks were in direct and continuing access to Egyptian culture from some time around 630 BCE with a major trading community in Naukratis on the Nile. Their first stone, monumental structures since Mycenaean times were created soon after, at Prinias on Crete. The form resembles the Mycenaean megaron at Tyrins . It is a rectangular hall with a fire pit flanked by a pair of columns at its center. It was entered through a porch with a facade of three massive piers. The roof was likely flat. Temple A, Prinias
Lady of Auxerre (Kore) . c. 650 BC . Limestone, height 24 ½". The identification and the exact origins of this statuette, discovered in 1907 in the reserve of the Auxerre museum, remain mysterious. It is however a perfect illustration of the "Daedalic" style, which marked the renewal of stone sculpture in the Greek world during the 7th century BC. The U-shaped face, the hair dressed in heavy layers, and the strict frontality define this style, which owes its conventional name to the engineer Daedalus, “the skillful one,” to whom were attributed in antiquity the most ancient statues. Daedalic characteristics: Wig-like hair – triangular hair style may have been borrowed from Egypt, where wigs were common Typical Daedalic costume: 1. Cape over shoulders 2. Long, shapeless skirt with incised (and painted) decoration (geometric patterns) 3. Broad belt Typical Daedalic facial structure – very triangular Hands are out of proportion, possibly to draw attention to them Gesture of hand on breast may indicate fertility/adoration meaning – from the East No indication of anatomy beneath the clothing Very static, posed, and frontal statue Very thinly carved – very flat without significant spatial depth
Kouros (pl. kouroi) “youth”figures (male)
Kore (pl. korai) “youth” figures (female)
style and stance of the Kouroi is taken from the Egyptian style used to depict pharaohs: the arms and legs are close in to the body because the Egyptians were interested in making statues that lasted.
The Greek versions are not as rigid because they were trying to express humanity.
the men were nude
the women were clothed and often had one extended arm
the eyes were large, bulging, and trancelike
the mouth was shaped into a quirky half-smirk (Archaic smile) which may have indicated that the individual was alive
the hair was also stylized and not realistic
both the men and women would have been painted to show more realism
the ears were placed too high on the head
the shins came to a point in the front
the pelvic region was highly defined
Standing Youth or Kouros From Attica (Kouros) . c. 600 BC. Marble, height 6'1 ½". The Metropolitan Museum’s Kouros is bolt uptight, striding ahead, left leg extended, arms hanging straight down to clenched fists, and frontal thumbs. His face stairs straight ahead. His hair, or wig, hangs behind in beaded ringlets, framing his neck. Except for the outstretched leg, or despite it, symmetry dominates. Both are constructed on the Egyptian workshop technique of working from each of four sides. This much is precisely in the Egyptian manner. The kouros sculptor has cut away the stone from between his legs and between his arms and his side. The kouros is finished in a blocky anatomy that indicates more particular muscles, but in a less naturalistic, more abstract manner that is more decorative than accurate. And the Greek figure is nude. The face particularly exhibits an angularity of edges, oversized eyes and frozen expression. This too, like the Egyptian statuary, is a funerary image, though Greek culture had nothing like the Egyptian beliefs surrounding the ka. This was simply a grave marker. It replaced the function great vases of the type we began with.
Calf Bearer , dedicated to Rhonbos, Athens, c. 560 B.C. The Calf Bearer (moschophoros), dedicated by Rhonbos on the Acropolis is more than a generation later and gives us our first indication of the great difference between the culture of the Greeks and those who preceded them. It is a stylistic step more naturalistic, in the direction of a gradual projection that will continue for the next several centuries.. The dedicator, Rhonbos, has himself shown bringing a calf to the god Athena’s altar as an offering. Aside from the calf, draped across his shoulders, and some sort of coat, Rhonbos pretty much resembles the kouros we’ve just seen: frontal, rigid, left foot forward, articulated muscles, frozen expression and bulging eyes. There are differences too. The main one is the slightly less angular and more organic roundness of the anatomy. We can also notice the arms drawn up to hold the calf, the beard indicating he is not a youth, and the hollowed out eyes, meant for inlays of some sort.
Kroisos (Kouros from Anavysos). c. 525 BC. Marble, height 6'4 'Stay and mourn at the tomb for dead Kroisos whom violent Ares destroyed, fighting in the front rank'. Here we can see this continual development underway. Kroisos’s pose is the same as the earlier kouros, but all the sharp edges are now melted organically and the muscles are indicated in soft bulging, not lines. The head is in proper proportions for the body; the hair falls more naturally, all the flat planes are replaced by organically rounded ones. Where there were symbols of muscles there are now representations of them. There are curves here having nothing to do with the four sides of the original block. Some of the original color remains. The Greek formula left flesh the natural stone, polished and waxed, with eyes, lips , hair and drapery (when it was included) painted in encaustic (pigment in was, applied hot).
The Peplos Kore is a chronological sister of the Kroisos, so we can compare the male and female ideals they represent. To begin with, she is dressed. A peplos is a long woolen belted garment. Dressing her leaves us with a totally different ideal, one in which women’s very anatomy is obscured in contrast to men’s. Scholars have suggested that the purpose of statues such as the Peplos Kore and other korai (the plural form of the word) was to serve as votive offerings, perhaps in this case to the goddess Athena. However it is also clear that the ancient Greeks delighted in creating and admiring these stylized images of beautiful maidens. So in essence, korai were meant to please both human and divine audiences. This figure was a votive offering in Athena’s temple on the Acropolis in Athens, broken at the time of Xerxes’s sacking of Athens in 480 BCE,. You can see where her left arm was added in an extended position. Yellow color remains in her hair and some other bits also. While it may be difficult now to imagine how she would have appeared in polychrome it is important to remember that this was the way the ancient Greeks decorated their works of art. In fact, if one looks closely one may see that traces of these colors remain.
Kore from Athenian Acropolis, 490 The Acropolis kore, of twenty years later, wears a light chiton below a heavier himation (mantel). This adds a plethora of patterns to the surface but exposed no more of her body. The green color has lasted well here. Here at last also is a bit of asymmetry. For all the advance in naturalism, we still have the Archaic smile and bulging eyes. The familiar convention of keeping sculpture colorless was developed by the Romans in the second century CE, in an attempt to look old, since the Greek sculpture of their day, which was the most admired art of the period, was all so old the authentic pieces had had their color washed off.
Hera," from Samos. C. 570 - 560 BC. Marble, height 6' 4". Kore in Dorian Peplos. C. 530 BC. Marble, height 48". Kore, from Chios (?). C. 520 BC. Marble, height 21 7/8".
Greek temples weren’t houses of worship. Their worship altars were outside on the east, facing the rising sun. Though they contained images of the god or goddess of their dedication and priests. The were decorated lavishly with figurative imagery, in the deity’s honor. The major Greek public ritual of worship was a gathering around an outside altar to share a meal with the deity of choice. Offerings to the deity included a feast, from which the heavenly gods received the flame and smoke laden elements and the worshippers the meat. The priests ran the feasts and made sure appropriate words were said to make sure the gods knew they were appreciated and who specifically was making offerings and what they expected in return. The temple was a closed and so dark place in which the image of the god or goddess could be maintained in state. And there it could be visited individually or in small groups and more modest, personal offerings passed through the priests. The temple was in the form of a large house, with an open porch around the exterior and open halls at either end. It was decorated with figurative sculpture over the lintel and in the triangular pediment over the lintel and before the entrance, at each end. Originally made of mud and then wood, most were fairly modest, but those of the greatest communities, were eventually constructed in stone. For the very finest temples, very handsome stones were found and very fine craft was used to embellish them. As a hall entered through a pillared entrance it maintains its relationship with Mycenaean megaron (4-19).
It is an elongated rectangular hall surrounded by an outer veranda row of pillars all around the exterior and a pair of rooms on the inside, fronted by an inner porch, fronted by a second rank of pillars. The structure is rigidly symmetrical, the slightly pent roof offering a slim triangular pediment , frame at each longitudinal end. The beauty of the design comes from its simplicity , and the simple rhythms and proportions of the rows of eye catching columns over a three steeped base, under the pent roof. The earliest temples had layouts in proportions of 1:3 and later ones moved toward 1:2. The Greeks themselves talked of beauty as being a matter of proportions.
There was decorative ornament at structurally accented points, with figurative images limited largely to the lintels and pediments. There were three main styles, each with its own combination of pillar, capitol and decorative scheme. The ornamentation was painted brightly.
The Orders of Greek Architecture (Greek Orders): 1. Doric (the oldest)
columns had no base
three bar triglyph and metope frieze
flutes on columns come to a point
derived from the Ionians on the west coast of Turkey
column has a base
flutes on columns are flat edged
similar to Ionic
fancy and ornate capital consisting of acanthus leaf decorations
naos or cella = core room of temple pronaos = the porch (before the naos/cella) in antis = columns “between the antae” or walls opistodomos = porch in the rear of the temple too
One of the earliest examples to survive in representative condition is the Temple of Hera I (long called “the Basilica”) at Paestum, on the west coast of Italy just south of Naples. Paestum was a Greek colony. Though its roof and interior walls have vanished, the temple’s entire peripteral colonnade has remained intact. It is a model Doric structure. Its base is a three steeped stylobate from which rise its 52 columns, 9 across the facade, 18 down the sides, a simple 1:2. Within the surrounding columns once stood the walls of the inner cella or sanctum fronted by three pillars in antis and a pair of engaged columns and entered by a pair of doorways. The main image of Hera stood a the far end, before an inner “treasury.” The center line of the structure was filled by a ridge pole colonnade, dividing the hall, unconventionally, in half. This was apparently done, in part at least, to suit two sanctum deities, with Hera on one side and her husband, Zeus on the other . Temple of Hera I, Paestum, Italy 550 B.C. What is the problem with the columns down the center of the cella ?
The richness of the design comes from the repetition of the columns . They are concave fluted Doric pillars with organically curving dish capitals —that seem to respond to the weight they bear—beneath crisp rectangular impost blocks (each called an abacus). The flutes of the shaft are shallow concave troughs meeting in sharply linear ridges . The geometric clarity of the forms is eye catching. The pillars as a whole are a set of cylindrical drums, one on the next, but tied into a single vertical shaft by the vertical flutes and their subtly narrowing profiles. The curve is slightly swelling rather than simply a narrowing, giving the whole a living rather than inert feel. The Greeks named this swelling entasis . The columns are relatively thick and the span between them is relatively narrow , in contrast to later, less conservative designs. These columns rise in the standard Doric manner, straight out off the top slab of the stylobate. Along with its roof, the metopes are now all lost to the temple, but those preserved in the site museum show blocky archaic figures in rigid but rhythmical poses. In the standard Doric fashion they alternated between triglyph panels.
The central figure of the West and, it is believed, the East pediments is the gorgon. Thus, the Temple of Artemis is also known as the Gorgon Temple . The style of the pediment, an early attempt to fill the triangular space, helps date the temple to ca 580 BC. “Pinwheel-looking” gorgon is flanked by two lions in the tradition of the guardians of the near east.The human Chrysoar (right) and the winged Pegasus (left) are her children. They sprung from her head after Perseus cut her head. Zeus and enemy are on the far right, and a dead giant on the left.
Pediments on Temples
A pediment is the triangular shaped area that rests on top of the architecture.
Pediments evolved a great deal from their archaic forms. Early pediments placed human figures in various scales side-by-side throughout the triangular area. By the Classical Period, pediment design had evolved and humans were depicted in the same scale throughout the entire triangle and in a uniform narrative. People were placed in different poses and positions in order to fill the small and large spaces in the pediment.
The area between the cella wall and the outside colonnade was made large enough to have allowed a second row of columns all the way around but was not utilized. Thus, the Temple of Artemis at Corfu is the earliest known to form a pseudo-dipteral plan. A dipteral temple has a double colonnade around the outside. Pseudo-dipteral describes a temple which is surrounded on all four sides by only a single row of columns, placed at intervals which correspond to the position of the outer row of columns in a dipteral temple.
T he sanctuary was initially dedicated to the cult of Aphaia, a local deity later assimilated by Athena. The Temple of Aphaia, shown here, was built in the fifth century BC. The goddess Aphaia, a protector of women, a huntress, and a nymph, was a daughter of Zeus. For a long time, it was assumed incorrectly that this was a temple to the goddess Athena, like the Parthenon in Athens. This assumption endured because the pediments, those carved triangular adornments at the top of the structure, depicted Athena watching over the Trojan War. Then, in 1901, a German archaeologist found an inscription to Aphaia. The inner room of the temple, called a cella , once housed the image of the deity.
Perhaps the most revealing figure is the Dying Warrior , tucked into the corner of the pediment. Here on the West side the figure is almost absurdly posed, like a reclining dinner guest, as he wrenches the spear from his chest, with the archaic smile on his face. West pediment versus East Pediment The West Pediment shows the Second Trojan War, complete with such heroes as Ajax (?), and Herakles, the archer. The East Pediment shows the same war at Troy but evidently completed rather later and clearly shows advances in technique. But the most dramatic contrast in technique from the earlier West pediment to this later monument is the Dying Warrior , tucked into the eaves. The artist shows new confidence in the representation of the human body. Definitely shows more freedom of movement and expression. (A bit of distortion still in waist/pelvis….results in misplaced navel.)
Though only fragments of the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi have survived, we can reconstruct it in essential form, because such structures followed such consistent formulas. Here we see the pent-roofed rectangle, though in a treasury there is no perimeter of columns. To two pillars in antis are caryatid females , and the continuous narrative frieze of the lintel is typical of the Ionic order . Treasuries were the structures where offerings to the gods were stored . Like in previous temples we have discussed , decorative sculpture are generally applied only to areas that are not serving a structural function. The caryatids are a rare exception.
Siphnian Treasury,Sanctuary of Apollo, Delphi c. 530-525 BCE Battle between the Gods and the Giants, fragments of north frieze
Amphora storing wine or oil Pelike, Stammos, wine or water Hydria principal water jug Krater mixing heavily diluted wine Kylix, Kantharos, Skyphos cups for drinking diluted wine Lekythos, Aryballos oil containers used for sepulchral offering
The archaic period is considered the golden age of Greek vase painting. Vases became more sophisticated both in the painting process and in their experimentation with the human figure. The François Vase was labeled with both the name of the potter and painter. It was signed Kleitias painted me and Ergotimos made me. Organized in registers, it contains more that two hundred figures, each labeled, that told the story of the mythological wedding of Peleus, father of Achilles. This vase was painted in a process called the black figure technique. The black figure technique started with a vase made of red clay. The figures were painted with slip (a mixture of clay and water). When the painted vase was fired at a high temperature, the slip turned black. Details, such as thin lines were scratched away from the painted area with a sharp tool. In this process only the figure was painted, the background was left the natural red color of the clay
We know that the artist Exekias made this vase because he signed it. If you look carefully at the outer edge of the cup's base, you can find the Greek letters from the artist's signature. They read EXEKIAS EPOESE, which means "Exekias made me." This type of signature means that Exekias potted or shaped the vase. When Exekias potted this vase around 535 B.C., he and other contemporary potters threw their vases on the wheel. The same artist signed other vases EXEKIAS EGRAPSE, meaning "Exekias painted me." Since the vases with Exekias' signature as painter are in the same style as this cup, we know he painted it as well. Judging from other surviving artists' signatures on Athenian vases, it was rare for the same artist to both shape and paint a vase. Only master artists like Exekias were able to do both.
The painter of this amphora, Exekias, was a painter who excelled in composition and that is evident here, where light and dark areas are skillfully balanced. The scene is from the Trojan Ware, and we see two of the most famous figures from this story, Achilles and Ajax. Achilles is at left, and Ajax is on the right. Both have rested their shields and spears, and Ajax has removed his helmet. These two warriors are shown taking a respite from their battles, and playing a game of dice(draughts) on a board. They intently focus on the game, moving their pieces around the board. Note the frontal eye, which seems to stare at the viewer, even though they are looking at the game board. While body proportions are still not anatomically correct, Exekias indicates volume and shape by using sgraffito, carving linear detail into the black shapes of the figures. Rather than focusing on the battles to come, Exekias here captures the more human moment of two warriors at rest, trying to take their minds off their worries of what is soon to come.
Andokides Painter, Ajax and Achilles Playing a game, 525-520 BCE
Andokides Painter, Ajax and Achilles Playing a game, 525-520 BCE Andokides was a potter in Athens in the late 500s B.C., known from his signature on nine vases. He probably learned his craft in the workshop of the vase-painter and potter Exekias. While it is not clear precisely which artist invented the red-figure technique of vase-painting, evidence leans toward its creation in Andokides' workshop. He must have been rather successful, since he is one of the few potters known to have dedicated a sculpture to the gods on the Athenian Acropolis
“ Bilingual " vessels =
bilingual vessel decorated in black-figure
on one side and red-figure on the other
Red-figure pottery was made by first painting the outlines of the figures, then providing the details, then painting the grounds. Because the brush is easier to control than an engraving tool, red- figure vases tend to be more detailed than black-figure.
Euphronios. Herakles Wrestling Antaios, c. 510-500 BCE Detail from krater, 19’ high ANTAIOS was a Libyan Giant who slew travelers passing through his realm and from their skulls built a great temple to his father Poseidon. He was slain by Herakles in a wrestling match who lifted the giant off the ground, the Earth his mother being source of his power, and crushed his ribs. He has shown the inhumanity of the giant: his rough hair and unkempt beard contrast sharply with Herakles' neat, curled and oiled Athenian style. His bushy eyebrows and long moustache give him a fearsomely 'barbaric' appearance. His eyes roll, his teeth are bared. He is losing his battle with Heracles: already his right arm is limp, as the relaxed fingers show. His leg is doubled under him, and we catch a glimpse of the sole of his foot - a favourite view of Euphronios! This artists was one of the first to use thinned paint to give an idea of shadow in the musculature and untidiness in Antaios' hair. The red figure technique developed from a desire to avoid the scraping process of the black figure technique. It was essentially the opposite process. Rather than painting the figure, the background was painted. The figure was left the natural red color of the clay. Only fine details in the figure were painted. It was much easier to paint these details than to scrape them away as was necessitated in the black figure process. To reiterate, only the background was painted and no scraping occurred.
A great rival - and probably friend - of Euphronios was Euthymides . His most famous work is an amphora which shows, on one side, Hector arming for battle, watched by Priam and Hekabe. The reverse shows three revellers just at the stage of drunkenness where they are determined to prove to each other that they are not, in fact, drunk. Two of them are standing on one leg, obviously very unsteadily: the third, his back to us, turns round to see what his friend is doing. The three figures show a very advanced (for the period - the very late sixth century) knowledge of anatomy.. He is the first to show (successfully) a three-quarter view figure, but the twisted spine of the central reveller is perhaps less successful. So proud was Euthymides of this particular vase - the drunken revellers and Hector - that he signed it, and beside the signature (on the rim) wrote " hos oudepote Euphronios " - "Euphronios never did anything like this!"