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Ancient Greek Art

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Ancient Greek art ranges from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic period. Sculpture, which was constantly changing, reflects the harmony of the movement of idealization and that of realism later on. Taste has diversified over time and is reflected through the medium of art. Vases, sculptures and even objects of daily use transcribe not only beliefs and manners but also modernization. One might wonder how the evolution of thought can be perceived in art. Harmony, as we know it today, is not represented in the statues from the classical period. It was not until the Hellenistic period that we feel a real desire for realism in art.

By the early third millennium, people probably Indo-European but not Greek came from Anatolia, settled in the Aegean, and initiated the strong use of copper and bronze. With quality marble abundant in several islands (Paros and Naxos), and a metal tool that complements the stone tools now in use , sculptors created the first authentic masterpieces of Greek statues, rare statues, the ones we used to call idols, that is to say, images, figures, in the etymological sense of the word.

At first, the idols were of two types. There are idols in the shape of a violin that can hold the trunk of the human body topped with an appendix referring to both the head and neck and other statues which are more realistic depicting the complete structure of the body and whose height never exceeds 30cm.

Then the size of the statues increased dramatically and the trend towards realism brings an average standard, canonical, the characteristic features being: the general line of the body is straight and slender with little volume, the nudity is almost always complete, anatomy is briefly but clearly defined (the sexual attributes show that most of the figurines are female). You can also specify that the head is oval and slightly thrown back, face is convex, the nose ridge is prominent and the neck is chunky. Finally, the position of the body is static with arms crossed at waist height (usually the left above right), the legs are slightly bent. Most idols are small, about 15 to 30cm, but some are real life dimensions, measuring up to 1.50m.

The Archaic Period: If one describes as "archaic" Greek art from the 4th century BC, it is not to suggest that there is something "primitive," just that it is the beginning of art. The Archaic period is really an extraordinary period of creative emergence, often regarded by scholars as the most beautiful of all Greek antiquity.

The society was very organized, with cities rich enough to build large religious buildings in honor of the gods and it is this period that the land saw the emergence of great statues; the Greeks borrowing the concepts from the Egyptians. It also inspired the typical Egyptian sculpture pose (head up, arms close to body, leg forward).

The two statues typical of this time the kouros, a statue of naked young man, and Korea, statue of a young girl; these are the first truly human statues.

Tags: kouros, "archaic" Greek art, Hellenistic period

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