Anda di halaman 1dari 3

ARCHAIC PERIOD A striking change appears in Greek art of the seventh century B.C.

, the beginning of the Archaic period. The abstractgeometric patterning that was dominant between about 1050 and 700 B.C. is supplanted in the seventh century by a more naturalistic style reflecting significant influence from the Near East and Egypt. Trading stations in the Levant and the Nile Delta, continuing Greek colonization in the east and west, as well as contact with eastern craftsmen, notably on Crete and Cyprus, inspired Greek artists to work in techniques as diverse as gem cutting, ivory carving, jewelry making, and metalworking (1989.281.49-.50). Eastern pictorial motifs were introducedpalmette and lotus compositions, animal hunts, and such composite beasts as griffins (part bird, part lion), sphinxes (part woman, part winged lion), and sirens (part woman, part bird). Greek artists rapidly assimilated foreign styles and motifs into new portrayals of their own myths and customs, thereby forging the foundations of Archaic and Classical Greek art art. The Greek world of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. consisted of numerous autonomous city-states, or poleis, separated one from the other by mountains and the sea. Greek settlements stretched all the way from the coast of Asia Minor and the Aegean islands, to mainland Greece, Sicily, North Africa, and even Spain. As they grew in wealth and power, the poleis on the coast of Asia Minor and neighboring islands competed with one another in the construction of sanctuaries with huge stone temples. Lyric poetry, the primary literary medium of the day, attained new heights in the work of such notable poets as Archilochos of Paros and Sappho of Lesbos. Contact with prosperous centers likeSardis in Lydia, which was ruled in the sixth century B.C. by the legendary king Croesus, influenced eastern Greek art. Sculptors in the Aegean islands, notably on Naxos and Samos, carved large-scale statues in marble. Goldsmiths on Rhodes specialized in fine jewelry, and bronzeworkers on Crete fashioned armor and plaques decorated with superb reliefs (1989.281.49-.50). The prominent artistic centers of mainland Greecenotably Sparta, Corinth, and Athensalso exhibited significant regional variation. Sparta and its neighbors in Laconia produced remarkable ivory carvings and distinctive bronzes (38.11.3). Corinthian artisans invented a style of silhouetted forms (1997.36) that focused on tapestry-like patterns of small animals and plant motifs. By contrast, the vase painters of Athens were more inclined to illustrate mythological scenes. Despite variance in dialect even the way the alphabet was written varied from region to region at this timethe Greek language was a major unifying factor in Greece. Furthermore, Greek-speaking people came together for festivals and the games that were held at the major Panhellenic sanctuaries on mainland Greece, such as Olympia and Delphi. Dedications at these sanctuaries included many works from the eastern and western regions of Greece. Throughout the sixth century B.C., Greek artists made increasingly naturalistic representations of the human figure. During this period, two types of freestanding, large-scale sculptures predominated: the male kouros, or standing nude youth, and the female kore, or standing draped maiden. Among the earliest examples of the type, the kouros in the

Metropolitan Museum (32.11.1) reveals Egyptian influence in both its pose and proportions. Erected in sanctuaries and in cemeteries outside the city walls, these large stone statues served as dedications to the gods or as grave markers. Athenian aristocrats frequently erected expensive funerary monuments in the city and its environs, especially for members of their family who had died young. Such monuments also took the form of stelai, often decorated in relief. Sanctuaries were a focus of artistic achievement at this time and served as major repositories of works of art. The two main orders of Greek architecturethe Doric order of mainland Greece and the western colonies, and the Ionic order of the Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor and the Ionian islandswere well established by the beginning of the sixth century B.C. Temple architecture continued to be refined throughout the century by a process of vibrant experimentation, often through building projects initiated by rulers such as Peisistratos of Athens and Polykrates of Samos. These buildings were often embellished with sculptural figures of stone or terracotta (26.60.73), paintings (now mostly lost), and elaborate moldings. True narrative scenes in relief sculpture appeared in the latter part of the sixth century B.C., as artists became increasingly interested in showing figures, especially the human figure, in motion. About 566 B.C., Athens established the Panathenaic games. Statues of victorious athletes were erected as dedications in Greek sanctuaries, and trophy amphorai were decorated with the event in which the athlete had triumphed. Creativity and innovation took many forms during the sixth century B.C. The earliest known Greek scientist, Thales of Miletos, demonstrated the cycles of nature and successfully predicted a solar eclipse and the solstices. Pythagoras of Samos, famous today for the theorem in geometry that bears his name, was an influential and forwardthinking mathematician. In Athens, the lawgiver and poet Solon instituted groundbreaking reforms and established a written code of laws. Meanwhile, potters (both native and foreign-born) mastered Corinthian techniques in Athens and by 550B.C., Athenianalso called "Attic" for the region around Athensblack-figure pottery dominated the export market throughout the Mediterranean region. Athenian vases of the second half of the sixth century B.C. provide a wealth of iconography illuminating numerous aspects of Greek culture, including funerary rites, daily life, symposia, athletics,warfare, religion, and mythology. Among the great painters of Attic black-figure vases, Sophilos, Kleitias, Nearchos, Lydos, Exekias, and the Amasis Painter experimented with a variety of techniques to overcome the limitations of black-figure painting with its emphasis on silhouette and incised detail. The consequent invention of the red-figure technique, which offered greater opportunities for drawing and eventually superseded black-figure, is conventionally dated about 530 B.C. and attributed to the workshop of the potter Andokides.


After the defeat of the Persians in 479 B.C., Athens dominated Greece politically, economically, and culturally. The Athenians organized a confederacy of allies to ensure the freedom of the Greek cities in the Aegean islands and on the coast of Asia Minor. Members of the so-called Delian League provided either ships or a fixed sum of money that was kept in a treasury on the island of Delos, sacred to Apollo. With control of the funds and a strong fleet, Athens gradually transformed the originally voluntary members of the League into subjects. By 454/453 B.C., when the treasury was moved from Delos to the Athenian Akropolis, the city had become a wealthy imperial power. It had also developed into the first democracy. All adult male citizens participated in the elections and meetings of the assembly, which served as both the seat of government and a court of law. Perikles (r. ca. 461429 B.C.), the most creative and adroit statesman of the third quarter of the fifth century B.C., transformed the Akropolis into a lasting monument to Athen's newfound political and economic power. Dedicated to Athena, the city's patron goddess, the Parthenon epitomizes the architectural and sculptural grandeur of Perikles' building program. Inside the magnificent Doric temple stood the colossal gold-and-ivory statue of Athena made by the Greek sculptor Pheidias. The building itself was constructed entirely of marble and richly embellished with sculpture, some of the finest examples of the high Classical style of the mid-fifth century B.C. Its sculptural decoration has had a major impact on other works of art, from the fifth century B.C. through the present day (27.45). Greek artists of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. attained a manner of representation that conveys a vitality of life as well as a sense of permanence, clarity, and harmony. Polykleitos of Argos was particularly famous for formulating a system of proportions that achieved this artistic effect and allowed others to reproduce it. His treatise, the Canon, is now lost, but one of his most important sculptural works, the Diadoumenos, survives in numerous ancient marble copies of the bronze original (32.11.2). Bronze, valued for its tensile strength and lustrous beauty, became the preferred medium for freestanding statuary, although very few bronze originals of the fifth century B.C. survive. What we know of these famous sculptures comes primarily from ancient literature and later Roman copies in marble (14.130.9). The middle of the fifth century B.C. is often referred to as the Golden Age of Greece, particularly of Athens. Significant achievements were made in Attic vase painting. Most notably, the red-figure technique superseded the black-figure technique, and with that, great strides were made in portraying the human body, clothed or naked, at rest or in motion. The work of vase painters, such as Douris, Makron, Kleophrades, and the Berlin Painter (56.171.38), exhibit exquisitely rendered details. Although the high point of Classical expression was short-lived, it is important to note that it was forged during the Persian Wars (490 479 B.C.) and continued after the Peloponnesian War (431404 B.C.) between Athens and a league of allied city-states led by Sparta. The conflict continued intermittently for nearly thirty years. Athens suffered

irreparable damage during the war and a devastating plague that lasted over four years. Although the city lost its primacy, its artistic importance continued unabated during the fourth century B.C. The elegant, calligraphic style of late fifth-century sculpture (35.11.3) was followed by a sober grandeur in both freestanding statues (06.311) and many grave monuments (11.100.2). One of the far-reaching innovations in sculpture at this time, and one of the most celebrated statues of antiquity, was the nude Aphrodite of Knidos, by the Athenian sculptor Praxiteles. Praxiteles' creation broke one of the most tenacious conventions in Greek art in which the female figure had previously been shown draped. Its slender proportions and distinctive contrapposto stance became hallmarks of fourth-century B.C.Greek sculpture. In architecture, the Corinthian characterized by ornate, vegetal column capitalsfirst came into vogue. And for the first time, artistic schools were established as institutions of learning. Among the most famous was the school at Sicyon in the Peloponnese, which emphasized a cumulative knowledge of art, the foundation of art history. Greek artists also traveled more extensively than in previous centuries. The sculptor Skopas of Paros traveled throughout the eastern Mediterranean for his commissions, among them the Mausoleum at Halicarnassos, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. While Athens began to decline during the fourth century B.C., the influence of Greek cities in southern Italy and Sicily spread to indigenous cultures that readily adopted Greek styles and employed Greek artists. Depictions of Athenian drama, which flourished in the fifth century with the work of Aeschylus, Sophokles, and Euripides, was an especially popular subject for locally produced pottery (24.97.104). During the mid-fourth century B.C., Macedonia (in northern Greece) became a formidable power under Philip II (r. 360/59336 B.C.), and the Macedonian royal court became the leading center of Greek culture. Philip's military and political achievements ably served the conquests of his son, Alexander the Great (r. 336323 B.C.). Within eleven years, Alexander subdued the Persian empire of western Asia and Egypt, continuing into Central Asia as far as the Indus River valley. During his reign, Alexander cultivated the arts as no patron had done before him. Among his retinue of artists was the court sculptor Lysippos, arguably one of the most important artists of the fourth century B.C. His works, most notably his portraits of Alexander (and the work they influenced), inaugurated many features of Hellenistic sculpture, such as the heroic ruler portrait (52.127.4). When Alexander died in 323 B.C., his successors, many of whom adopted this portrait type, divided up the vast empire into smaller kingdoms that transformed the political and cultural world during the Hellenistic period (ca. 32331 B.C.)

HELLENISTIC PERIOD Between 334 and 323 B.C., Alexander the Great and his armies conquered much of the known world, creating an empire that stretched from Greece

and Asia Minor through Egypt and the Persian empire in the Near East to India. This unprecedented contact with cultures far and wide disseminated Greek culture and its arts, and exposed Greek artistic styles to a host of new exotic influences. The death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. traditionally marks the beginning of the Hellenistic period. Alexander's generals, known as the Diadochoi, that is, "successors," divided the many lands of his empire into kingdoms of their own. New Hellenistic dynasties emergedthe Seleucids in the Near East, the Ptolemies in Egypt (2002.66), and the Antigonids in Macedonia. However, some Greek city-states asserted their independence through alliances. The most important of such alliances between several city-states were the Aitolian League in western central Greece and the Achaian League based in the Peloponnese. During the first half of the third century B.C., smaller kingdoms broke off from the vast Seleucid kingdom and established their independence. Northern and central Asia Minor was divided into the kingdoms of Bithynia, Galatia, Paphlagonia, Pontus, and Cappadocia. Each of these new kingdoms was ruled by a local dynasty lingering from the earlierAchaemenid Persian empire, but infused with new, Greek elements. The Attalid royal family of the great city-state of Pergamon reigned over much of western Asia Minor, and an influential dynasty of Greek and Macedonian descent ruled over a vast kingdom that stretched from Bactria to the Far East. In this greatly expanded Greek world, Hellenistic art and culture emerged and flourished. Hellenistic kingship remained the dominant political form in the Greek East for nearly three centuries following the death of Alexander the Great. Royal families lived in splendid palaces with elaborate banquet halls and sumptuously decorated rooms and gardens. Court festivals and symposia held in the royal palaces provided opportunities for lavish displays of wealth. Hellenistic kings became prominent patrons of the arts, commissioning public works of architecture and sculpture, as well as private luxury items that demonstrated their wealth and taste. Jewelry, for example, took on new elaborate forms and incorporated rare and unique stones. New precious and semiprecious stones were available through newly established trade routes. Concurrently, increased commercial and cultural exchanges, and the greater mobility of goldsmiths and silversmiths, led to the establishment of a koine (common language) throughout the Hellenistic world. Hellenistic art is richly diverse in subject matter and in stylistic development. It was created during an age characterized by a strong sense of history. For the first time, there were museums and great libraries, such as those at Alexandria and Pergamon (1972.118.95). Hellenistic artists copied and adapted earlier styles, and also made great innovations. Representations of Greek gods took on new forms (1996.178; 11.55). The popular image of a nude Aphrodite, for example, reflects the increased secularization of traditional religion. Also prominent in Hellenistic art are representations of Dionysos, the god of wine and legendary conqueror of the East, as well as those of Hermes, the god of

commerce. In strikingly tender depictions, Eros, the Greek personification of love, is portrayed as a young child (43.11.4). One of the immediate results of the new international Hellenistic milieu was the widened range of subject matter that had little precedent in earlier Greek art. There are representations of unorthodox subjects, such as grotesques, and of more conventional inhabitants, such as children and elderly people (09.39). These images, as well as the portraits of ethnic people, especially those of Africans, describe a diverse Hellenistic populace. A growing number of art collectors commissioned original works of art and copies of earlier Greek statues (09.221.4). Likewise, increasingly affluent consumers were eager to enhance their private homes and gardens with luxury goods, such as fine bronze statuettes, intricately carved furniture decorated with bronze fittings, stone sculpture, and elaborate pottery with mold-made decoration. These lavish items were manufactured on a grand scale as never before. The most avid collectors of Greek art, however, were the Romans, who decorated their town houses and country villaswith Greek sculptures according to their interests and taste. The wall paintings from the villa at Boscoreale, some of which clearly echo lost Hellenistic Macedonian royal paintings, and exquisite bronzes (1972.118.95) in the Metropolitan Museum's collection testify to the refined classical environment that the Roman aristocracy cultivated in their homes. By the first century B.C., Rome was a center of Hellenistic art production, and numerous Greek artists came there to work. The conventional end of the Hellenistic period is 31 B.C., the date of the battle of Actium. Octavian, who later became the emperor Augustus, defeated Marc Antony's fleet and, consequently, ended Ptolemaic rule. The Ptolemies were the last Hellenistic dynasty to fall to Rome. Interest in Greek art and culture remained strong during the Roman Imperial period, and especially so during the reigns of the emperors Augustus (r. 27 B.C.14 A.D.) and Hadrian (r. 117138 A.D.). For centuries, Roman artists continued to make works of art in the Hellenistic tradition.