Blog Post Week 4: Stephen

After reading up on the eras of ancient Greek art, I would definitely say that the classical period was my favorite. Studying ancient art for me, is really about catching a glimpse of the culture that it came from. I think that the classical period of Greek art captures the best of ancient Greek society in a way that the other styles do not. Several major characteristics make the classical periods make it stand out from the others. First, during that early classical and classical periods of Greek art, many artists began using the lost-wax process to make bronze sculptures. This provides both a stylistic shift, and a practical one when comparing the bronze sculptures to those carved from marble in the periods of the geometric, orientalizing, and archaic styles. Another key mark of classical style is a transition to more naturalism. Stylistic elements still remain in the sculptures made during the classical style period, but more realistic (but idealistic), flowing figures provide a stark contrast to the stiff, stylistic forms of earlier sculptures.

The piece from the classical period that I chose to analyze is the Terracota Statue of Nike, from the late 5th Century B.C.

 

Nike sculpture

You may not have noticed, but the figure is not quite as complete as it once was. It once included wings that were inserted to slots on the back, and of course a head. Being a personification of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, it is obviously very idealistic. The curved, flowing lines of Nike’s gown seem to be rippling in the wind, as if she is soaring above the field of battle. To me, this seem like a perfect representation of the classical period in comparison to the other periods of Greek art. The sense of idealism, the more realistic body lines, and the practical use of a 3-D space are all very representative of the classical era.

Looking at the Parthenon, it varies widely from other ancient monuments, but also shares a lot of commonality. First, they were all built as monuments to the gods of their time. First, monuments like the ziggurats and the pyramids were far less practical. In ancient Greece, democracy was a way of life, and philosophers and politicians were held in very high esteem. The Parthenon catered a lot more to the practical needs of its builders. monuments like the pyramids were focused almost completely on the afterlife, while the Parthenon was the center of Greek life before death. The Parthenon was a monument to the ancient Greek gods yes, but it was also a place to carry out the mandates of those gods. The Parthenon was also much more consistent with the architecturally with the artistic movements of its time when compared to the ziggurats and stonehenge. Overall the Parthenon was much more focused on being of practical use in Greek life than its predecessors.

Sources:

Terracotta statuette of Nike, the personification of victory. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/07.286.23/

Adams, L. (2011). A history of western art. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

2 thoughts on “Blog Post Week 4: Stephen”

  1. I find the lost-wax process to make bronze sculptures so interesting, and how the bronze statues are hollow. It is also interesting to see the blend of two different cultures. Some of the bronze statues have the subjects posed like those from Egypt.

    I found it interesting on how the Parthenon was named and the stories about Poseidon and Athena fighting for it. The building also symbolizes democracy. I love how the current Supreme Court is modeled after the Parthenon. I agree with you that it had more of a practical use rather than a monument. Do you see any other modern monuments that don’t have a “practical” use?

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  2. The lost-wax process is such a crazy, time consuming process! I have a lot of respect for pieces like that. The rippling effect is so calming. I am always amazed at the intentional craft of ancient work. Artists are taking in and completely manipulating something so hard and cold like bronze, and forming something so warm and inviting like rippling cloth. It’s complete idealism, but they were also such visionaries. I would love to see the notes of someone who saw a hunk of metal and thought “rippling fabric in the wind!”

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