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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Art History Series I

The Greeks
The Greeks were the first "humanists". Man as the measure of all things.
Arete the ideal of perfection of the human body as well as grace and beauty; the avoidance of excess; pride in refinement and subtlety; excellence was a goal to be pursued in all aspects of life.
Columns were a predominant architectural element, representing balance, harmony and proportion.
The Parthenon is the best example of this.

The first period in Greek Art is the Archaic period-the human form is emphasized. It is represented as massive crude and abstract. The art in that period was made to stand for the ideals and sugggest the supernatural; having immortal powers. The human form expressed a masklike face as in an "archaic smile"-the ideal face of a god or hero of the time.

The Classical period idealized the symbol of the victor. Action was shown in art. Men as men and men as gods were represented. This period is called the Golden Age of Greece.

Hermes & Dionysus           Dancing Satyr

The Hellenistic period saw the completion of The Pergamon colliseum and the expansion of the Greeks into Asia minor. The staircase is the focal point of the Pergamon contrasted to the columns in The Parthenon. The carvings are now deeply carved and friezes are at eye level. The motifs are international and complex. 

Ancient Rome
It reflects the Greek influence that produced it. Think Gladiators and wall murals. Great size and scale were favored over detail. Romans were more interested in representing the ordinary, the everyday. The Roman Republic form of government was The Senate. It prevented one person from having too much power. It allowed conquered people to live their lives as they saw fit. Family was very important. Christ was represented as "the good shepard". Tolerance was a theme throughout this society until Julius Caesar conquered Rome and turned it into a dictatorship.

             Roman Christ                         Venus                Mural at Pompeii   
Ara Pacis

The self importance of the Emperor expands.

Marcus Aurelius
Septimus Severus bust

The Pantheon was built in the Hadrian period of Rome.The Pantheon had a great dome with classical columns and a Roman vault. It was plain and ordinary on the exterior but articulate and theatrical within.

The Pantheon
Medallion motifs were popularized. Emperor rulers were replaced by warrior rulers. There careworn and troubled looks were seen in these rulers faces in the artwork from this period. Rome starts it's decline.
Emperor Constantine bust
These leaders now had to defend Rome from barbarians. So begins the end of the Roman Empire.