Greek art


This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.

“Western civilization has carefully constructed itself in the image of the Greek and Roman Worlds” (Hall, 2007, p. 103). Greek art has incorporated itself even in this generation. We see examples of Greek art in the design of libraries, government buildings, banks and college campuses. (Hall, 2007). It’s more than just classical statues and buildings; it uses art to talk about issues such as the difference in men vs. women, and even culture vs. religion. Throughout the years, it has evolved to fit the period. "Mirrored in light and darkness, in man and woman.  In their art as their literature, the ancient Greeks addressed the tension between these polar opposites" (Hall, 2007, p. 103). 

Greek art is the backbone of the modern day era. For obvious reasons group two chose to focus on Greek art. We concentrated on the 800 to 100 BCE era and focused mainly on the depictions of the human body sculpted in marble or bronze. As a group, we explored themes based on movement, realism, and baroque elements. To do this efficiently, we used our book as well as Google Art to select different pieces that supported our theme.

       The depictions of the human body are incorporated into all the elements described above. First, we reflected on the movement of the body, which is described by Lucy Lamp in a truly beautiful way: "Art exists in time as well as space. Time implies change and movement; movement implies the passage of time. Movement and time, whether actual or an illusion, are crucial elements in art although we may not be aware of it.” Her depiction of art movement is engaging and true. Many Greek sculptures that we focused on involved movement such as, Zeus, sculpted in 460 BCE. Through all the art our group has chosen you can clearly define the movement in the piece.

            “Realism, in the arts, the accurate, detailed, unembellished depiction of nature or contemporary life" (Realism, 2016). Greek art is excellent at portraying realism in its work. Many, if not all, of our pieces depict realism. Although realism is not always easy to describe in the works of art, if the viewer studies it long enough and hard enough they can find it. Realism is an important aspect of art; it brings the sculpture, painting, or drawing to life right before the viewer.

            Lastly, we focused on baroque, which is defined by Hall as, “To describe extreme emotions, extravagant gestures, and theatrical locations. . .” (2007, p. 159).  Baroque is the most interesting aspect of viewing art. One of the best examples of baroque is Nike of Samothrace, which is a marble sculpture from 190 BCE. This represents baroque by the dramatic pose of the Nike landing on the ship despite the great winds rushing against her, which are evident by the swirling drapery. "Its swirling motion suggests the head-wind she struggles against, which, in turn, balances the rushing forward thrust of her arrival. The drapery creates the environment around the figure” (Hall, 2007, p. 159). Baroque is an interesting element that is even more greatly expanded upon in this era.

            Overall our group chose Greek art for its extraordinary work as well as its history. By choosing to focus on the mediums bronze and marble, we witnessed the amount of thinking and logic it took to make such a classical sculpture without it falling apart. Furthermore, we focused on the 800 to 100 BCE era allowing us to dive deeper into the history of that time, which gave us a better understanding of the art. Lastly, the use of movement, realism and baroque described the purpose of the human anatomy in relation to one, if not all of the elements above.


Statuette of Aphrodite Leaning on a Pillar, Unknown, 250–200 B.C., From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
The Statuette of Aphrodite is absolutely beautiful. It was initially identified as Thalia, the muse of comedy, then later taken for Euterpe, the muse of flute-playing, in the nineteenth century. Finally it was identified as an ancient replica of an Aphrodite leaning against a pillar, which was most likely Alcamenes’ Aphrodite of the Gardens. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. As with many ancient Greek deities, there is more than one story about her origins. She had many lovers, both gods and men because of her magical girdle that compelled everyone to desire her. Her holy tree was the myrtle, while her holy birds were the dove, the swan, and the sparrow. She represented sex, affection, and the attraction that binds people together. In this particular representation, she wears a large wreath of flowers around her head and has a cloak draped around her hips. She’s depicted semi-nude to emphasize her sensuality. Her outstretched hand originally held an offering, which many art critics assume was a dove or an offering bowl. It also was originally brightly painted, as it still has traces of red paint on it. The statuette was probably intended for domestic use or possibly for dedication.
Etruscan Statuette, 460 B.C.E. - 450 B.C.E., From the collection of: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Etruscan Statuette is ranked among the largest and most beautiful Etruscan bronze sculpture in American collections. It features a man standing tall with his left hand holding what appears to be a weapon, and his right hand raised in a defensive pose. He is completely naked except for a shawl-like material draped over his shoulders. His body is sculpted. He may portray Maris, who is the Greek warrior god. Maris was the son of Hercle, the Etruscan equivalent of Heracles. In some scenes Maris appears in scenes depicting an immersion rite to ensure his immortality. Some art critics believe that the statuette represents Hercle, who was depicted as a muscular figure often carrying a club and wearing a lionskin. He is often shown engaging in adventures not known from the Greek myths of Heracles or the Roman and later classical myths of Hercules. And other art critics believe that it has nothing to do with them at all, but is simply a mortal. The sculpture’s pose is based on slightly earlier Greek sculptures.
The winged Goddess Nike adjusting her sandal., Unknown, Around 410 BC, From the collection of: Acropolis Museum
Nike is a bronze phedian sculpture by an unknown artist. It was created in the c. 410-407 BC in Athens. This sculpture is 37 inches tall and is now resting in Acropolis Museum, Athens. Phedian style is defined as “Conveys an ideal that was not merely artistic but also philosophical: the idealized faces and proportions the Athenians elevate them above the uncivilized world in which they operate” (Hall, 1995,p. 138). The pheidian style is very evident in the sculpture. Hall states, “ The phiedian style is most evident in the deeply cut folds of her “wet look” garment, which cling to her body and fall in deep swags between her legs” (1995, p. 139). It explains exactly where the viewer can connect the idea of pheidan style to the sculpture. Relief in Nike is very evident by the way Nike is portrayed against the rugged background. By doing this, the artist showed the discernment between the background and where the sculpture came to life. Relief is also evident by the details of the clothing and how they portray a wet look instead of being flat or dull. Movement is a vital part to this sculpture. For example, Nike taking off her shoe single handily would be a difficult maneuver for a regular human being. However, she does it with grace and elegance as her wings hold her up. This movement also shows the viewer part of Nike anatomy. The display of strong arms, as well as the muscular legs, reveals the strength of Nike. Baroque is not as evident in this piece as it is in many others. However, Nike gesture may not be extravagant, but it is symbolic according to Hall, "One Nike is taking off her sandals, indicating that she is about to step on holy ground" (1995, p. 138-139). Therefore, it still holds a baroque element. Overall, Nike is a sculpture that has a lot to offer its viewers. By just glancing at in the viewer may miss the significance of removing the shoes, the importance of the “wet” look or the fact her wings are subtly, yet gracefully holding her up. Nike portrays many elements that require the viewer to take a closer look and do a little research on the era.
Statue of a Girl ("The Budapest Dancer"), ca. 240–220 B.C., From the collection of: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
Statue of a Girl is an example of Hellenistic sculpture. This life-like human female statue is sculpted from Parian marble and stands 62cm high. For being roughly 2 feet tall this is relatively small for typical Greek Sculpture. Greek Sculptures are typically known to be life-size or larger. This piece of work displays naturalism and movement. The piece displays a young girl with a natural appearance. Her face and hair are sculpted to show texture and great detail. The girl’s hair is parted and neatly rolled to the sides and then pulled backward to a bun. There are details of her facial features, although no real expression is visible from her facial features. There is movement in the way the young girl’s body is positioned. She is looking towards her right shoulder, which is lowered creating an angle across her chest towards the floor. Her right hand reaches across her body grabbing ahold of her chiton. The subtle body positions create the impression of movement. As in most Greek female statues, this female figure is clothed. A chiton, long wool tunic, is draped across her body. The Chiton is not detailed and doesn’t show any decoration, leaving the piece of work with an unfinished appearance. Chiton’s were culturally significant in Ancient Greece. The chiton is the most significant piece of the work that shows movement. The chiton hangs off of the right shoulder, displaying a bare shoulder. There are several folds in the fabric, displaying the impression of movement. The young girl’s hand is holding part of the chiton and there is the appearance that she is raising the chiton from the floor. Such an occurrence would happen if someone were to be dancing. By taking into consideration the impression of movement with the girl’s body positioning and the positioning of the chiton, you can visualize her movements. Despite the works great effort to detail, there are also some unfinished pieces. The chiton does not display any detail and the back of the sculpture shows minor detailing which leads to the belief that this work was unfinished.
Artemis, unknown, 115 BC - 100 BC, From the collection of: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
This statue of Artemis is almost an unusual depiction of the Goddess of the moon and hunting. Artemis is typically viewed in hunting scenes with animals and bow and arrows. This particular piece of work shows Artemis standing and wearing a long garment, a peplos. A peplos is a traditional Ancient Greece body-length garment worn by females. Artemis is standing with her hips slightly turned placing her weight on one foot. The long, straight vertical folds of the peplos give the appearance that Artemis is standing and not walking or exhibiting any sort of movement. The statue displays great detail in the hair, but lacks detail in the face. The statue also lacks detail in the peplos. Artemis is viewed resting her left arm on a small female figure. This figure is half the size of the statue of Artemis. This is the most significant piece of the statue, in my perspective. The smaller female statue is also wearing a long body-length garment. Her left hand is pulling some of the garment outward and her right hand is raised to the center of her chest. This positioning leaves the impression of showing respect. Aside from being the Goddess of the moon and hunt, Artemis was also portrayed as the Goddess of childbirth and protector of young girls. The larger statue of Artemis appears to be protecting the smaller female figure. Artemis is also missing her right hand, possible either broken off or at one time this may have held a torch. Artemis’ left knee is also bent, almost blocking the side view of the smaller statue. This again displays a sense of protection towards the smaller female figure. Finally, part of Artemis’ body-length garment is draped over the top of the smaller figure. Artemis is fully involved in the smaller statue by her garment and body positioning, which leads me to believe she was showing protection.
Statuette of a man carrying a ram, Unknown, -620, From the collection of: Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Statuette of a man carrying a ram can be viewed in multiple ways. Some may view this as a sacrificial ceremony, as I do. Others may view this simply as a shepherd returning to a village following a hunt. No matter how you interpret the message intended by the piece there are several commonalities that can be viewed in the sculpture. First, let’s look at the piece itself. This sculpture has a height of 180cm, therefore this is life-like in size as it is roughly 5ft. 11in. The man is shown frontally and he displays an athletic body. The build of the man helps viewers see him as powerful and strong, there is no weakness intended in this piece. The man’s arms are extended to take on the weight of the ram. This sculpture follows traditional principles in that, the ridges and grooves of his muscles form simple, balanced patterns. Pectoral muscles are visible in the man’s chest. Lastly, the legs display a great sense of strength and power. The man’s thigh muscles are visible and his thighs are the widest part of his body. The contour of this thighs shows muscle. The man’s face displays minimal detail, his eyes are relatively large and wide open. The ram displays enough detail to accurately represent that of a ram, long, curled horns, jagged strokes create the element of fur.  
Aphrodite is perhaps one of the most favorite deities to transform into art. She is the goddess of beauty and love. She is still considered to be perhaps one of the greatest examples of female beauty today. This statue however, is not exalting her to the godlike status one would think. Rather it is aligned with the Hellenistic period style of art. The art in this era was more about making the statues and works of art that are of gods to be more human-like.  Venus, also known as Aphrodite, is a mother as shown in the statue. She and Eros, her son, are posing to represent the tender relationship between a mother and her child. The Hellenistic period did a fantastic job of displaying relationships and emotions of every day people and translating them into their artwork. Some of the ways that display the human-like emotion in this statue include several of the following things. Aphrodite is looking down on Eros in a loving and gentle way. Eros' wings and tiny stature make him look playful and childlike. One would not think that he is a roman deity(except for the wings part). His relationship with his mother appears to be a loving one as he strives to be with her as she gently reaches down to him.  The statue is little in size but not known for what it was used for. But it is known that the Romans would put their beliefs into nearly everything that they do, especially their artwork. Venus and Eros are just a few of the many gods displayed in art. 
Head of Poseidon / Antigonos Doson, Greek, 227–221 BC, From the collection of: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
The identity of the head is not exactly known. There are two possible identities to it, one being the deity Poseidon, while the other is Antigonos Doson. Poseidon is the god of the ocean, and brother of Zeus. The reason for the suspicion of him being the identity of the mask is that the appearance is similar to other statues of Poseidon. The curly beard and hairstyle is similar to the general look of Poseidon. All major deities had a certain look that artists tried to mimic to some degree.  However there is another possible identity is Antigonos Doson. He was a king of Macedon back around the time of Alexander the Great. During this time people of power considered themselves to have a godlike status. They would create art of themselves so that people would recognize their greatness and remember them even after they are out of power.  The big reason why the identity is not known is because of the poor way they would label statues back in those days. They would either label them and the label would fall off, or they would not label them at all as the statue was supposed to be obvious depending on where it is located. For example, if it was in a temple for Poseidon, it would be obvious that it was the statue head is Poseidon. The same would go for Antigonos Doson. However, the location for where the artifact was found was unfortunately not enough to determine the identity of the head statue. 
Statue of Athena Parthenos, Unknown, Early of 2nd century, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
The statue of Athena Parthenos is a part of the Roman beliefs as it was a statue of the goddess Athena. She is one of the highest deities as she is the daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom, law and justice, war strategy, sciences, the arts, etc. She is also the namesake for the city of Athens. This statue of hers was located in a temple dedicated to her.  The statue was mounted on the wall of the temple, as evident by the backing. The back is not fully sculpted out like the front is. There are also mounts on the backside to attach it to a wall. It is not in the best condition though. It is missing its arms and therefor the full significance of the statue is unknown. She could have had them positioned in a certain way or she could have been holding something. Some believe she could have been holding a Nike as well. Unfortunately, we shall never know the significance of her statue in full as it will never be complete. 
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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