Greek art  

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 This page Greek art is part of the Ancient Greece series.   Photo: western face of the Parthenon
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This page Greek art is part of the Ancient Greece series.
Photo: western face of the Parthenon

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Greece has a rich and varied artistic history spanning some 5000 years. It began in the Cycladic and Minoan prehistorical civilization, and gave birth to Western classical art in the ancient period (further developing this during the Hellenistic Period). It took in influences of Eastern civilizations and the new religion of Orthodox Christianity in the Byzantine era and absorbed Italian and European ideas during the period of Romanticism (with the invigoration of the Greek Revolution), right up until the Modernist and Postmodernist periods.

Greek art is mainly four forms: architecture, sculpture, painting and painted pottery.

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Ancient Period

Ancient Greek art

Greek art began in the prehistoric Cycladic and Minoan civilizations.

There are three scholarly distinctions of later ancient Greek art that correspond roughly with historical periods of the same names. These are the Archaic, the Classical and the Hellenistic. The Archaic period is usually dated from ca. 1000 bc . The Persian Wars of 480 BC to 448 BC are usually taken as the dividing line between the Archaic and the Classical periods, and before the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC is regarded as separating the Classical from the Hellenistic period. Of course, different forms of art developed at different speeds in different parts of the Greek world, and varied to a degree from artist to artist. There was no sharp transition from one artistic period to another.

The art of ancient Greece has exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries from ancient times until the present, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture. In the West, the art of the Roman Empire was largely derived from Greek models. In the East, Alexander the Great's conquests initiated several centuries of exchange between Greek, Central Asian and Indian cultures, resulting in Greco-Buddhist art, with ramifications as far as Japan. Following the Renaissance in Europe, the humanist aesthetic and the high technical standards of Greek art inspired generations of European artists.

Byzantine Period

Byzantine art is the term created by the Eastern Roman Empire from about the 5th century until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. (The Roman Empire during this period is conventionally known as the Byzantine Empire.) The term can also be used for the art of states which were contemporary with the Persian Empire and shared a common culture with it, without actually being part of it, such as Bulgaria, or Russia, and also Venice, which had close ties to the Byzantine Empire despite being in other respects part of western European culture. It can also be used for the art of peoples of the former Byzantine Empire under the rule of Ottoman Empire after 1453. In some respects the Byzantine artistic tradition has continued in Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries to the present day.

Byzantine art grew from the art of Ancient Greece, and at least before 1453 never lost sight of its classical heritage, but was distinguished from it in a number of ways. The most profound of these was that the humanist ethic of Ancient Greek art was replaced by the Christian ethic. If the purpose of classical art was the glorification of man, the purpose of Byzantine art was the glorification of God.

In place of the nude, the figures of God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the saints and martyrs of Christian tradition were elevated and became the dominant - indeed almost exclusive - focus of Byzantine art. One of the most important forms of Byzantine art was, and still is, the icon: an image of Christ, the Virgin (particularly the Virgin and Child), or a saint, used as an object of veneration in Orthodox churches and private homes.

Modern Period

Due to the Ottoman rule of Greece, there was very little artistic output during this time, so the de facto birth of modern Greek art was the start of the 19th century (the end of the Greek War of Independence was in 1829). Absorbing a number of Romantic influences, most notably from Italy, the result was the distinctive style of Greek Romanticist art, inspired by revolutionary ideals as well as the particular geography and long history of the country.

Contemporary Period

Theodoros Stamos (1922–1997) was a great abstract expressionism art from Lefkas that lived and worked in New York in the 40s and 50s. His work has been exhibited throughout the world, and can be found in major museum collections such as the Whitney Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C..

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Greek art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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