Ancient Greece Arts

Art historians generally define Ancient Greek arts as the art produced in the Greek-speaking world from about 1000 BC to about 100 BC. Greek artists first established mimesis (imitation of nature) as a main principle of art.The Ancient Greece Arts is usually divided stylistically into four periods: the Geometric, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic.

Ancient Greek Art

The Dark Ages (1100 – 750 B.C.)

During the Dark Age, Artisans in Athens produced an abstract style of painted pottery called Protogeometric (meaning “first geometric”). The precision of the painting on this pottery foretells the character of later Greek arts. Around 800 B.C., the Hellenic civilization began to arise.

The last 2 centuries of the Dark Age, are called the Geometric period. That refers to a primarily abstract style of pottery decoration of the time. The Greeks probably adapted Phoenician alphabet at the same time, (around 800 B.C).


The Archaic Period (750-500 B.C.)

In the Archaic period, statues were never intended to be representations of actual individuals. They were depictions of an ideal – beauty, piety, honor or sacrifice. They were always depictions of young men, ranging in age from adolescence to early maturity, even when placed on the graves of (presumably) elderly citizens. Kouroi were all stylistically similar. Gradations in the social importance of the person commissioning the statue were indicated by size rather than artistic innovation.

Greek art of five men battling in ancient Greece.

Greek Art Painting

This is the period when monumental stone sculpture, vase painting, and other developments were seen represented as Greek ideas. As each community attempted to establish itself as culturally superior, Monumental building programs became part of the competition. In this period, Kouros and kore statues were created.

These stylized figures of young men and maidens express the birth of a specifically Greek artistic obsession – the idealization of the human figure. The art of vase-painting reached a level of artistic and technical excellence.



The Classical Period (480-338 B.C.)

In the Classical period, there was a revolution in Greek statuary, usually associated with the introduction of democracy and the end of the aristocratic culture associated with the kouroi. The Classical period saw changes in both the style and function of sculpture.

Classical Period

Greek Arts sculpture

Greek sculptors had learned to represent the human body naturally and easily, in action or at rest. They were portraying gods and their best sculptures achieved almost godlike perfection in their calm, ordered beauty. Poses became more naturalistic and the technical skill of Greek sculptors in depicting the human form in a variety of poses greatly increased.

The Hellenistic Period (338-31 B.C.)

This represents the shift from a culture dominated by ethnic Greeks, to a culture dominated by Greek-speakers of whatever ethnicity, and from the political dominance of the city-state to that of larger monarchies.

Thus Ancient Greek Arts became more diverse and more influenced by the cultures of the peoples drawn into the Greek orbit. In the view of most art historians, it also declined in quality and originality; this, however, is a subjective judgment which artists and art-lovers of the time would not have shared.


Hellenistic Greek Art

In the Hellenistic Greek art, people sought to portray the inner emotions and details of everyday life instead of the heroic beauty. The style changed from godlike serenity to individual emotion and from the dramatic to melodramatic pathos, using dramatic poses and theatrical contrasts of light and shade playing over figures in high reliefs.

One characteristic of these sculptures was that they showed extreme expressions of pain, stress, wild anger, fear, and despair. The first Theaters were built in the Hellenistic Period. Corinthian columns began to be more common in this period.

The art of ancient Greece

Greek art and architecture have a lasting influence on its simplicity and reasonableness on the history of Western civilization and Ancient Greek Arts. Greeks stated many of permanent themes, attitudes, and forms of Western culture.