Greek Art

Greek Art
Art is the creation of beauty, it was the first written language and to study art history is to study the history of civilizations and mankind. The Greeks essentially molded the world with their intelligence in art, architecture and astronomy for many. They were a culture that strived for perfection and harmony.
The abstract geometric patterning that was dominant during the Geometric period is replaced by a more naturalistic style in the Archaic period which inspired Greek artists to work in techniques as diverse as gem cutting, ivory carving, jewelry making and metal working. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003) Also during this time the increasing naturalistic representations of the human body was being sculpted into perfection by using the perfect blend of balance and proportion for the male and female body. They called the male the Kouros; he was considered to represent the Greek god Apollo and was always depicted nude in a contrapposto position. The female equivalent was Kore, or standing draped maiden. She unlike the male was always clothed and standing erect with feet together or sometimes with one foot to the left.
The Classical period removes us from the world of Archaic rigidity and on to one in which art takes on the task of representing life, and not merely just creating tokens of life, this in turn gets the viewer more involved. This period of time comprises of two distinct periods: the early classical and the high classical. However both these periods shared the uniquely contradicting, constantly explorative, and modestly idealistic vision of life, which made the subjects of the stele, at their moment of death, all the more human to the observer. Neither the previous Archaic period, nor the following 4th century, or the preceding civilizations quite so convincingly capture for the observer the poignancy of death the way a fifth century BC stele could. The period of the 5th century B.C. is sometimes referred to as the golden age, which is the height for Greek art and civilizations; and ironically has its beginning and ending in war.
?Between the boundaries of 480 and 404 the human figure ran through a wide range of psychological nuances. ? Of these many ?nuances? there are two significant styles that are observed in art history. First there is ?the self-confidence brought about by a deep-seated certainty of the outcome of the struggle with the environment in the course of the ?severe style?, which is a characteristic of the early classical period. And then there is the resignation bought about by dashed hopes the fickleness of illusions and escapism in the ever fragile creatures of the ?rich style? ?, which can be identified in the high classical period. The stylistic differences mentioned above tend to break this so-called golden era of the 5th century B.C. into two periods (Bordman, 1985). However, ironically the one factor that combines these periods together is death, or at least monuments erected for death.
The Greeks viewed death somewhat differently from the way we do. To them death freed their souls and brought true happiness: then why does their grave sculpture look so pensive and thoughtful? It is because unlike today where the dead are only represented figuratively in a sobbing angel or mournful cherub, the Greeks depicted their dead as they were in life - life which was full of uncertainties and burdens but also with simple pleasures that made it all worth while. As seen in the example of this gravestone of a little girl as she would have been in actually life. Here the little girl holds two doves, one with its beak closed to her mouth as if kissing it, the other is perched on her left hand. (fig 1)
Although the Parthenon in Athens remains the supreme example of classical Greek art. In its day, it would have been embellished with numerous wall-paintings and sculptures, yet even relatively devoid of adornment it stands as an unmistakable monument to Greek artistry. ?Originally, the Parthenon's sculptures fell into three groups. (1) On the triangular pediments at either end were large-scale free-standing groups containing numerous figures of Gods and mythological scenes. (2) Along both sides were almost 100 relief?s of struggling figures including Gods, humans, centaurs and others. (3) Around the whole building ran another relief, some 150 meters in length, which portrayed the Great Panathenia a religious 4 year festival in praise of Athena.? ("Greek Art,"