The first masterpieces in two styles of sculpture were produced in 5
B.C.E. by the Africans. The first style is classical realism. The first masterpieces in
two styles of sculpture were produced in 5 B.C.E. by the Africans. The first style is
classical realism. The second is the sculpture of Africa, which twists and deforms
human features and limbs in a dramatically expressive way. This forms the largest
part of primitive art. The sculpture of Africa can be found in the Nok culture-named
for the village in Nigeria where pottery figures of this form were first discovered.
The African masks in this tradition inspire Picasso's experiments with Cubism, which
establish the mainstream of modern art.
Figures in terracotta are the longest surviving tradition of African sculpture, and
they date back to the Nok sculptures. The discovered figures date back to the time of the
first cast-metal sculptures in the same region. Terracotta figures in Africa continue to be
made in traditional style, contemporary to carved wood sculptures of modern times. The
African tribal art styles do not change over time, and therefore these sculptures are all
similar to the sculptures created centuries ago by African ancestors.
From the 12th century C.E., cast-metal sculptures have been made by the
people of Ife and Benin with the use of brass and pure copper. With these elements,
life-sized masks and heads and smaller full-lengthed figures are made. Benin
sculptors eventually took up the task of creating brass plaques with scenes in relief.
These plaques are nailed to pillars of the royal palace as decorations.
African wood-carving began in the 19th century and is still performed
today. Tribal carving is done for a particular purpose: to create a figure
representing an ancestor that is destined to stand in a shrine, to make a mask with
the sole intention of being used by a shaman once a year in a special dance, to
create a post to hang a chief's verandah or to form part of a palisade around his
house, to make an elaborate chair for an important person to rest on.
African tribal art portrays true imagination. The basic subject of the art
is the human body. Although parts of the body may be more focused on than
others in the sculptures, the strong design of the sculpture maintains the balance
of the parts. African tribal art teaches us that the human body can be distorted in
so many ways that new creatures can be formed through the imagination.
Columns: The Greeks developed 3 types of architectural orders the Doric,
Ionic, and Corinthian columns. Doric: The Doric column has a sturdy build and a plain
capital (top.) In Ancient Greece, this style was used in mainland Greece and in the
southern colonies in Italy and Sicily. Among the structures that have been built with
this style of order is the Parthenon, a Greek temple that is located on the Acropolis in
Athens that is dedicated to Athena, the Roman Goddess of wisdom.
Ionic: The Ionic column is thinner than the Doric column and is
designed elegantly. Its capital is decorated with a volute, a scroll-like design. This
style was used in Eastern Greece and in the Greek islands. The Ionic column was
used in the Erechtheum, a temple that was built on the Acropolis of Athens, the
Temple of Apollo at Didyma, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
Temple of Erechtheum
Corinthian: The Corinthian column, solely used in the Greek world, was
often part of the structures of the Roman temples. Its capital is very elaborate and
decorated with acanthus leaves. The most notable Corinthian temples are the
Temple of Zeus at Athens, the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, and the Temple of
Apollo at Bassae.
The Temple of
Zeus at Athens
Mycenaean age art included curvilinear designs and naturalistic representations.
Human and animal life were presented in schematized and formal forms.
Geometric period (900-700 BCE) contained pottery that is characterized by two-
dimensional stylized patterns that bear little relation to nature. Between 700 and 600 BCE, Asian
influence encouraged the use of floral and arabesque designs and the adoption of Asian
monster and animal themes.
During the Archaic Period (600-480 BCE,) sculpture emerged as a principal form of
artistic expression. This period began the kouroi, fantastic statues of nude walking youths, which
may have formed from Egyptian influence, and draped female sculpture, which may have come
from Middle Eastern influence. Vase painters painted mythological scenes and scenes from the
modern life. Three-dimensional space and naturalistic detail was formed through the creation of
the red-figured style of vase painting.
In the Early Classical Period (480-450 BCE,) a perfect balance between verisimilitude
and abstraction began as artists perfected their form of artistic expression. A remarkable
sculpture of this time is from the temple of Zeus at Olympia. Marble figures from pediments
became popular and gave a new insight into the structure of the human body.
During the Golden Age (450-400 BCE,) the idea that human character is the expression
of a divine system representing a rational ethic and reality became important. Therefore,
sculptors created sculptures based on a rational ideal human figure. These sculptures were
found in the Parthenon, the Erechtheum, and the Nike Balustrade.
Sculptures from the
temple of Zeus at
The Late Classical Period (400-300 BCE) brought an increased emphasis on the expression of
emotion in art. Sculptures from this time are characterized by elegance of proportion and graceful beauty. In
the style of Scopas, powerful emotional effects are common. Lysippos brought a new feeling for
individualization and three-dimensional movement. They style of the sculptors of this time is influenced by
fragments and Roman copies.
The Hellenistic Period was the last great phase of Greek art. Masterpieces of this time include the
Nike of Samothrace, Aphrodite of Melos, and the Pergamum Frieze. Minor arts of this period were often
terra-cotta figurines. Heightening spatial illusionism are revealed in sculpture and painting.
Lysippos Nike of
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) is a famous Mexican painter who makes colorful art with a larger-than-
life appearance. Unlike the work of her contemporary artists, Kahlo did not do murals or work on mass-
printed graphics; rather, she worked in mediums that could not spread easily. Kahlo’s work combines
dreamlike imagery with reality. Her paintings have similar characteristics to those of traditional Mexican
devotional paintings. Kahlo’s works are small paintings with great details and sometimes include text.
Mexico & the
Fernando Botero (born in 1932) is a Colombian artist whose works are primarily focus on
situational portraiture. His other works also include still-lifes and landscapes. Botero’s portraits often show
life in an enlarged way, as both human and animal bodies are given exaggerated proportions. Botero is an
abstract artist whose works have details based on visual thinking.
Picasso and the
Carmen Lomas Garza was born and raised in a town in Texas, right near the Mexican border. She
has been following her dream of being an artist since she was a little girl and has worked with oil, acrylics,
lithographs, and papel picado-Mexican paper-cutting. Garza is not only an artist and continues to work as an
illustrator, art director, curator, and writer. In her first book, Family Pictures/Cuadros de Familia, Garza
describes her childhood experiences and with each picture comes a story about the family event or tradition
A very significant form of Israeli art is paper cutting. Paper cutting dates back to the 14th
century. However, it has become less common since the Holocaust. Today, we have the famous artwork
of Dena Levie to look at for the influence of paper cutting.
A Ketuba, a marriage
license, with a
Chuppa at its bottom
and Jerusalem at its
at its roots
Safed is the central city of art in Israel. Many of the art galleries of the country are found in Safed.
The artists’ colony established in Safed’s Old City has been a center for creativity and has drawn many artists
from around Israel, including Yosl Bergner, Moshe Castel, and Menachem Shemi.