The three civilzations that flourished 5000-3000 years ago were the direct forerunners of the first true European civilization of Greece.
Sculpture - Most examples date from the neolithic period and are female.
The people of the Minoan civilzation flourished on the island of Crete. They established a wealthy network of trade that enabled them to be economically self-sufficient. Minoans reached their peak c1600 BCE. Much of what we know about the Minoan culture is due to the archaeological work of Sir Arthur Evans.
Architecture-primary examples were built at the Temple Complex at Knossos.
|Painting - artists worked on a large scale using the fresco technique.
Typically, murals were views of nature and/or scenes of human activity and had
painted geometric borders.
Sculpture - were primarily small religious subjects made in ivory, wood, precious metals and stone.
The site of the ancient Mycenaean civilization was discovered in the late 19th century by archaeologist Heinrich Schleimann. The people of the Mycenaean culture were influenced by the Minoans. But unlike the peaceful Minoans, the culture of the Mycenaeans was dominated by military encounters and the building of fortifications and strongholds. These buildings were once referred to a cyclopean because the mammoth rocks were believed to have been moved by the fictitious giant Cyclops people.
HISTORY: Two major groups, the Dorians (from mainland Greece) and the Ionians
(from the Aegean Island groups), were the earliest people to create strong
kinship groups based upon language and common beliefs. Divided geographically,
the early Greeks created small, independent city-states. Throughout the years, an
intense military, political and commercial rivalry will evolve between the
Vase Painting-Very typical of this period were large funerary vases designed to hold votive offerings. Decoration consisted primarily of abstract forms arranged in registers that surrounded the vase. Artists emphasized flat patterns and outline shapes that represented human forms in various poses of anguish. that repeated themselves around the vase.
Vase Painting-Patterns used to decorate vases were larger and more open than geometric styles. Figures were real and imaginary in animal and human form. This pattern of design reflects a strong influence of motifs from the Near east, Asia Minor, and Egypt.
Statuary-There are very few examples of statuary from this time period. Lady of Auxerre, is the best example with its triangular flat-topped head with stylized strands of hair, that compliment the triangular pattern used for the facial shape.
|The Archaic Period
Architecture - A greater sense of permanency will characterize the architecture of the Archaic period. Temples were no longer built of mud brick, but were constructed of stone and marble. Architects experimented with different elevations of order, the Doric and the Ionic especially. Standard Doric elevation (seen in the Temple of Hera I) included fluted columns that rested directly upon the stylobate, and a three-part entablature.
Statuary - With few exceptions, most archaic statuary was usually life-size or larger, painted, and shared a facial expression known as the "archaic smile." Female statues are identified as kore, and young male statues as kouros.
|Vase Painting - The main area for the production of vases during the Archaic
Period was Athens. Artist adopted the Corinthian technique of vase decorating
called black-figure.Inaddition red-figure technique was also used as a method of
|Early Classical Period
In the early fifth century BCE, the Greek city-states united to successfully stop a Persian invasion. However, the final defeat of the Persians did not come until after the destruction of many cities, including Athens.
Architecture and Architectural Sculpture-Examples from this period represent a time of transition. Temples become more compact, columns become more widely spaced with a smoother transition from the vertical shaft to the horizontal elements of the architrave. The overall effect is more refined and is best illustrated in the design of Temple of Hera II. Architectural sculpture shares this new refinement. Pediment statuary becomes lifesize and displays a variety of movement and action.
|Freestanding Sculpture Early classical statuary
represents a complete break with the rigid, unnatural Egyptian inspired poses
used by archaic sculptors in their kouroi. There is a new concern to
render the human form in natural poses that illustrate how a human actually
|High Classical Period
It was Pericles, who ruled Athens 462-429 BCE, that encouraged Athenians to rebuild the Acropolis that had been destroyed by the Persians in 480 BCE. This monumental undertaking was highlighted by the construction of the Parthenon. Completed in 438 BCE, construction was directed by Pheidias, who spared no expense at the project.
- Sculptors from the High classical Period believed that
rue beauty was only found in perfect form. Sculptors such as Myron and
Polykleitos believed that true beauty existed in perfect proportions, in
harmonious numerical ratios. Polykleitos wrote about his ideas in his treatise
called the Canon.
|Late Classical Period
For one year after Athens was defeated by Sparta, the Athenian people were subjected to the tyrranical rule of Kritias. In 403 BCE, Athens revolted against Sparta and democracy was restored. Athens never regained her empire status, but the arts did continue to flourish. The artists of the fourth century BCE experimented with new subjects and new artistic styles, that turned away from the rigid conventions of the High Classical period.
|Architecture and Architectural Sculpture
Epigonos Dying Gaul, 230-220 BCE
Athena Attacking the Giants, Altar of Zeus, c166-156 BCE
Nike of Samothrace, c190 BCE