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Greek Art & Architecture. Archaic Period (c. 800-479 BCE) Classical Period (c. 510- 336 BCE) Hellenistic Synthesis (c.336- 30 CE). Sculpture of Ancient Greece.

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greek art architecture

Greek Art & Architecture

Archaic Period (c. 800-479 BCE)

Classical Period (c. 510- 336 BCE)

Hellenistic Synthesis (c.336- 30 CE)

sculpture of ancient greece
Sculpture of Ancient Greece

The Archaic period was the earliest period in Greek Sculpture which started around 600 B.C. and lasted until 480 B.C.   These works have a stiff and ridged appearance similar to that of the Egyptian sculpture. 

The second period, the Classical period, was between the Archaic and Hellenistic times.  The Classical period shows a very large shift from the stiff Archaic to a more realistic and sometimes idealistic portrayal of the human figure.  Females, after the 5th  century B.C., were depicted nude, often with flowing robes.  The robes gave the sculpture the idea of movement and realism in an effort by the artist to show humans more naturally and realistically.  

The third period, the Hellenistic period, started a little before 300 B.C.  To the average person, it is more difficult to see the distinctions between the Classical and Hellenistic period.  Both periods did the majority of their sculpture as nudes.  The Greeks portrayed a young, vigorous, and athletic person in their works.   These works idealized the individual and in a way, attempted to capture the idea of youth and strength in their design.  The works reflect the commonly held views of youth, strength, courage, and beauty which were encouraged in the Greek City states.

art of ancient greece
Art of Ancient Greece

Discobolosc. 450 BCRoman marble copy after the bronze

original by Myronheight 155 cm (61 in)Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome

Compare the statue of Discobolos with the statue of Michael Jordan. How does each civilization portray its athletes? Why?

archaic greek art influenced by egyptians first kouros male and kore females
Archaic Greek Art influenced by Egyptians- first kouros (male) and kore (females)


First free standing sculpture during this period-c. 650 BCE kouros (male) left , kore (female) above

Egyptian (c. 25thcentury BCE) Menkaure and his Queen

classical greek
Classical Greek
  • Shift to more realistic
  • Females after 5th century often nude w/ flowing robes
  • Robes gave idea of movement & realism
  • contrapposto stance (one leg fwd, shift in weight conveys gravity)
  • “Discus thrower” c. 485 BCE is to left
  • Youth of Marathon


hellenistic period
Hellenistic Period
  • Harder to see distinctions b/tw Classical & Hellenistic
  • Youth, vigor, athleticism of earlier Classical period still evident
  • More dynamic movement
  • Nike of Samothrace Statue
  • Hellenistic: Venus of Melos (Milo) c. 100 BC


sculpture of ancient greece1
Sculpture of Ancient Greece

Greeks portrayed the gods in very similar fashion as they did the regular humans.  There were no distinctions of size or body make up in their sculpture which would suggest that the gods were greater or more powerful then the humans.  This is also similar in Greek stories, where the gods are shown to have very human characteristics, both good and bad.   

How does this cartoon reflect the influence of the Greeks on our culture?

Nike, Greek Goddess of

The Greeks were blessed with a large supply of marble, which was what they used most in their sculptures.  Bronze was also used in their artistic work of humans. 

Remember: there are three main periods of Greek Sculpture: Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic.

ancient greek pottery the process technology source http www metmuseum org toah hd vase hd vase htm
Ancient Greek Pottery: The process (technology) Source:
  • Between the beginning of the sixth and the end of the fourth centuriesB.C., black- and red-figure techniques were used in Athens to decorate fine pottery while simpler, undecorated wares fulfilled everyday household purposes. With both techniques, the potter first shaped the vessel on a wheel. Most sizeable pots were made in sections; sometimes the neck and body were thrown separately, and the foot was often attached later. Once these sections had dried to a leather hardness, the potter assembled them and luted the joints with a slip (clay in a more liquid form). Lastly, he added the handles. In black-figure vase painting, figural and ornamental motifs were applied with a slip that turned black during firing, while the background was left the color of the clay. Vase painters articulated individual forms by incising the slip or by adding white and purple enhancements (mixtures of pigment and clay). In contrast, the decorative motifs on red-figure vases remained the color of the clay; the background, filled in with a slip, turned black. Figures could be articulated with glaze lines or dilute washes of glaze applied with a brush. The red-figure technique was invented around 530 B.C., quite possibly by the potter Andokides and his workshop. It gradually replaced the black-figure technique as innovators recognized the possibilities that came with drawing forms, rather than laboriously delineating them with incisions. The use of a brush in red-figure technique was better suited to the naturalistic representation of anatomy, garments, and emotions.
  • The firing process of both red- and black-figure vessels consisted of three stages. During the first, oxidizing stage, air was allowed into the kiln, turning the whole vase the color of the clay. In the subsequent stage, green wood was introduced into the chamber and the oxygen supply was reduced, causing the object to turn black in the smoky environment. In the third stage, air was reintroduced into the kiln; the reserved portions turned back to orange while the glossed areas remained black. Painted vases were often made in specific shapes for specific daily uses—storing and transporting wine and foodstuffs (amphora), drawing water (hydria), drinking wine or water (kantharos or kylix), and so on—and for special, often ritual occasions, such as pouring libations (lekythos) or carrying water for the bridal bath (loutrophoros).
archaic pottery to classic
Archaic Pottery to Classic
  • 7th century BCE trade with east included images of foliage and animals from East
  • Black figured
  • Later red figured gave more detail
    • began in Corinth
    • left red attic stamnos pottery
  • Images from myths, Illiad
Ajax on the right says,Tria“Three.” Achilles counters with Tesara“four.” They are believed to be playing dice.
Panathenaic prize amphora, ca. 525–500 B.C.; black-figureAttributed to the Kleophrades PainterGreek, AtticTerracotta
  • Inscribed with "from the games at Athens"
  • One side: Athena, the presiding goddess at the Panathenaic games in Athens
  • Other side (shown): thepankration, a contest at which this vase was awarded as a prize.
  • Objective of contest (boxing + wrestling combo): bring opponent to the ground
  • Trick of contest: seize opponenet by the leg, forcing him to fall backward,
  • Third party trainer stands nearby, observing to ensure all rules are properly observed
architecture of ancient greece
Architecture of Ancient Greece

Greek life was dominated by religion and so it is not surprising that the temples of ancient Greece built to honor their gods were the biggest and most beautiful. They also had a political purpose as they were often built to celebrate civic power and pride, or to offer thanksgiving to the patron deity of a city for success in war.

greek orders
Greek Orders

The Greeks developed three architectural systems, called orders, each with their own distinctive proportions and detailing. The Greek orders are: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

The Acropolis
  • Acropolis is a Greek word meaning 'high city'.
  • The Athenian Acropolis rises from the plain of Attica to 500 feet above sea level.
  • In times of attack the Acropolis became the last fort of defense.
  • The Acropolis hill, so called the "Sacred Rock" of Athens, is the most important
  • site of the city.
  • The Acropolis contains some of the world's most famous structures built in the
  • classical architectural style.
The Parthenon

Built as a temple of Athena Parthenos ("Virgin") in the Doric Style, the Greek goddess of wisdom on the Acropolis in Athens. The Parthenon was built in the 5th century BC, and despite the enormous damage it has sustained over the centuries, it still communicates the ideals of order and harmony for which Greek architecture is known.

How does the Lincoln Memorial compare to the Parthenon?


Doric: Temple of Zeus at Olympia

greek amphitheatre
Greek Amphitheatre

Greek tragedies and comedies were always performed in outdoor theaters. Early Greek theaters were probably little more than open areas in city centers or next to hillsides where the audience, standing or sitting, could watch and listen to the chorus singing about the exploits of a god or hero. From the late 6th century BC to the 4th and 3rd centuries BC there was a gradual evolution towards more elaborate theater structures, but the basic layout of the Greek theater remained the same.

How does the Jones Beach Theater compare to the Greek Amphitheater?