Ancient Greek Art

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Ancient Greek Art

There were two types of paintings that were used in Ancient Greek culture, panel paintings and wall paintings. There are almost no panel paintings left in existence but lone survivors are the Pista panels. Panel paintings depicted scenes from history, everyday life, portraits, and more; and were created with hot wax painting and tempera. The other form of painting was wall paintings. There are not many of these paintings left but the few that survive show the same content as panel paintings as well as nature scenes.

Greek pottery made up a large part of Ancient Greek art and was used for everyday use instead of just display, and typically showed religious and mythological scenes. There were multiple periods of Greek pottery, which were Protogeometric, Geometric, Archaic, Black Figure, and Red Figure. During the Protogeometric and Geometric periods pottery was decorated with geometric patterns as the names suggest. In the Archaic period geometric patterns were still used but the human figure began being depicted as well. During the Black Figure period slip (liquid clay) was painted on the pottery and turned black once it was fired in a kiln, creating the black figures, and were detailed with either red or white paint. Finally, in the Red Figure period the pots were painted completely in black then the figures were painted in red.

Some of greatest pieces of art today come from the beautiful sculptures that the Ancient Greeks made. Some materials that were used to create these sculptures were stone such as limestone and marble, bronze, gold, ivory, and occasionally terracotta. Like most art forms in Greek history, Greek sculpture was divided into different periods: Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic. During the Archaic period Greeks used stone and bronze to create free standing figures as well as small figures of animals. These sculptures were used for various reasons such as memorials, oracles, grave markers, and more. During this time, the Greeks were inspired by sculptures from Egypt and Mesopotamia and, due to this, their sculptures were rigid and did not contain much movement. As the period progressed, more detail was added and body parts began being bent and moved to slowly create a more natural look. Also, during this time period the Greeks made the human figure their focus in their art. The main types of sculptures that appeared in the Archaic period were the kouros, standing naked man; kore, the clothed standing woman; and the seated woman. In the Classical period the human form became more naturalistic and the uses for sculpture changed. Sculptors started using new poses that put their figures into motion and brought them to life and created ideal portrayals of the human body but also depicted real people. Not only this, but sculptures were now used for funerals and temples that were being created. During this time period the female nude figure was also introduced and was no longer limited to just clothed figures.Finally, in the Hellenistic period art started being influenced by various cultures and took on and even more naturalistic look. More topics began being depicted in sculptures, such as scenes from daily life, children, and animals. Also, the idealized figure began to vanish and more realistic art began to appear, and the size of artwork started to grow.





Ancient Greek Art

Greek architecture was a large portion of Greek art and this art form is still seen in modern life. In early times, before the temples most people imagine when they think of Greek architecture were created, the Greeks simply used wood and thatched roofs. Slowly, stone temples began being created and were turned into the buildings we know today. These structures were usually rectangular and were created out of limestone, marble, and various metals for decorations. In regards to this architecture, there were five orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. These orders simply referred to the style of the columns used as well as the entablature, which was the part of the structure the column supported. The Doric order was the simplest of the three orders and included triglyphs (a rectangular area with vertical grooves that separated metopes) and metopes (a recessed rectangular area that was either painted or decorated with sculptures) in the entablature. Next, the Ionic order was more detailed and incorporated more parts into the design such as a base and a now rounded top of the column, also known as the capital, as well as carvings in the entablature. Lastly, the Corinthian order was by far the most detailed and ornate order in Greek architecture. This order included a very decorated capital, larger base, and more details in the entablature. To view each order click here.An interesting fact about Greek architecture was that the Greeks used illusions to make their buildings seem perfectly straight and flawless. They achieved this by doing things such as thickening the bottoms of columns as well as corner columns, as well as making the columns tilt inward.Famous buildings of Greek architecture include the Parthenon and the Temple of Haphaestus.


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