Art can be interpreted in a plethora of ways depending on how the viewer sees the piece. For example, when viewing the Mona Lisa, created by the great artist Leonardo da Vinci, one viewer may see her smiling while the other may see her facial expression as sad or forlorn. It all depends on the point of view of the viewer. In ancient Greece, there were a plethora of amazing works of art, most of them being sculptures. Three different art styles dominated the culture and though they are similar they all have different qualities and characteristics about them that differentiate them from one another.
The term Hellenistic dates back to the expansion of Greek culture and its distribution of culture and unconventional ideologies. The Hellenistic art world not only included the Aegean, it also focused in on the Poleis of Athens and Sparta. Simply put, during the Hellenistic art period there was a plethora of variety and progressivism. Everything was new and did not stick to the average status quo. One of the more crucial points of the Hellenistic period was the separation of Alexander the Great’s empire into empires founded by Alexander’s generals: the Ptolemies in Egypt, the Seleucids in Mesopotamia, Persia, and Syria and so on. Those generals became regents of the different regions as time wore on. All of these houses practiced a royal patronage which varied from the rest of the city states.
The Hellenistic Greek art period was a period of classical antiquity and had a more mature and established look. It began to catch on after the death of Alexander the Great in 322 BC, but eventually died out when Greece was seized by the Romans in 146 BCE. One specific and very well-known sculpture would be of Laocoon and His Sons, a classical and beautiful piece of Hellenistic Greek art. It displays In Virgil Laocoon, a priest of Poseidon who was killed along with his sons when they tried to expose the truth behind the Trojan Horse. It embodies the feel of the Hellenistic time period in that it is more classical and mature as opposed to the Archaic sculpture Kleobis and Biton, which has a more Egyptian look to it, and the Classical sculpture Hermes and Infant Dionysus, which has a more relaxed and soft nature.
During the Classical Greek art time period, the focus of art and sculptures was primarily on the beauty and mysteries of the human body. In the early 5th century, Greek sculptors began experimenting with the body images of the humans and animals. They included carefully constructed models as well as anatomically correct mechanics of the body. Greek artists began consciously to attempt to render human and animal forms realistically. For example, the sculpture Hermes and Infant Dionysus was crafted to be almost anatomically perfect. The smooth muscles, rigid where need be and smooth in other places, emphasized the overall structure and beauty of the human bod, differing from the more rigid and proper Hellenistic time period or the more avant garde Archaic time period.
During the Archaic art time period, was a free for all mixture of different western and eastern ideas. It combined Egyptian art with Grecian art and created something different and beautiful. It was a time of creativity and creation. For example, the sculpture Kleobis and Biton has elements of western influence. It combines the styles of ancient Egypt with the art style and geometric stability of Greek art and created something unbelievable, differing from the more conventional Hellenistic art time period or the out of the box Archaic time period.
I adore all of these sculptures. I think that they all embody my ideas of what good art is and should be because it combines a variety of different art concepts and styles, but maintains its originality. It draws upon so many different influences and thoughts and creates something that no amount of training or studying can offer. I think that these ideas, if incorporated into modern day art, could really progress our version of artistic expression and create something unheard of.
- Athens, N. O. (2017). Greek Art: The Hellenistic Period. Retrieved from http://greeklandscapes.com/greece/athens_museum_hellenistic.html
- Boardman, J. (2012, October 26). The Classical period (5th – 4th century BC). Retrieved from http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/sculpture/styles/classical.htm
- Met, T. (2017). Greek Art in the Archaic Time Period. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/argk/hd_argk.htm