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Art History Weekly III

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2/25/2016 7:43:30 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Week Three
So far we have covered cave art dating between 70,000 and 30,000 BCE and, Art of Early Civilizations 5,000- 2,500 BCE. This week we jump forward to 750-50 BCE a period where iron works expanded across Europe, Asia and Africa and art rose to new heights.

Previously known as the Mycenaens who traveled to Greece around 2,000 BCE; they were absorbed into other tribes from the north to create the Greek culture. They spread throughout the Aegean and Asia Minor comprising of three major city state groups comprised of Dorians and Ionians. The Greeks reigned supreme in artistic expression. In 776 BCE they held the first Olympic Games and had developed a distinctive art style referred as the Geometric. This Geometric style was also found in Italy and the Near East which indicates travel and trade was occurring. An example is the grave marker Dipylon Vase from about 750 BCE. It is made of Terracotta standing 42 1/8 inches tall.

Shortly after, Greek art exploded into the Orientalizing Style which showed an interest in Egyptian and Near East influences. New motifs of winged monsters, fighting animals and combat scenes became common. Earlier patterns from the Geometric era remained but where used in the periphery. Curvilinear motifs began to arise in the form of spirals, interlacing bands and rosettes. Figures moved away from geometric form, gained in size and have directness and force. Artist began to sign their works and individual distinctive styles arose, though most Archaic works of this period were drawings filled with solid flat color. By the artist Psiax, Herakles Strangles the Neman Lion, c.525 BCE, terracotta, 19 1/8" tall, is an Amphora style vase using the black figure technique. This technique was used to apply decorative motifs by applying a clay slip that turned black when fired which left the natural clay color for background. Lines where carved through the slip when wet to depict contour and form.

This motif depicts a scene of Heracles' first labor assigned him by King Eurystheus. The lion was fabled to be impervious to arrows and plagued the area of Nemea. Hercules strangles the beast, and then skins him to make a lion skin cape to be presented to the king. Mythological subject matter reoccurs throughout this period. In this particular vase, depth of field is shown with a landscape background.

During the Orientalizing Style period monumental statues began to arise in Greece, It is believed to have been influenced by Egyptian art since Greeks were living in the area during this time and would have been exposed to early Egyptian works. Unlike the Egyptian standard, Archaic sculpture was primitive, less natural, ridged, over simplified and awkward. Similarities with the use of a block style is evident with formalized hair treatment, close fitting clothing and broad shoulders and a foot forward stance that was common amongst Egyptian works. Differences lie with how the Egyptian figures allow the body form to be seen through clothing and naturalistic depiction of facial features and gaze. Whereas the Greek clothing treatment is solid and undifferentiated, eyes are oversized and feature modeling basic. As a forward move, Greeks made free standing figures. Egyptians did not fully carve figures free from the stone.

On the other side of the world was the pre-Colombian Olmec Culture in Mexico dating 1400-500 BCE. By this time they were using a 365 day calendar and constructing monumental public sculpture. Colossal basalt heads varied in size and weigh between 6 and 50 tons. Characteristics are stylized fleshy cheeks, flat nose and slightly crossed eyes along with a headdress. They are naturalistic in depiction of a specific ruling individual, and where believed to have been brightly painted. It is thought that great planning involving many individuals had to take place to source stone and its movement prior to sculpting. Sculpting was done with harder hammer stones, since metallurgy had not yet been developed. The pieces were smoothed with water and sand.

Young Olmec Ruler Praying to Jaguar God shares many similarities with Greek and Egyptian sculpture. The body of the figure is not fully defined, blockish in shape. Like Greek works clothing does not show through a body shape, it's suggested in relief. The focal point is the head which naturalistic features are similar to Egyptian works. Notice again the formalized hair treatment and headband detail. Like Egyptian statues this figure remains bound to the stone.

In Persia, the Achaemenid Empire 553-330 BCE had grown to over a 10 million in number and occupied all lands south of the Black and Caspian Seas and north of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf, to the west to now Libya and Egypt, to the east into the Indus Valley of India. This culture was artistically prolific and picked up influences from the civilizations it conquered. In the video provided you'll see the various influences from earlier works shown and variety of artistic expression.