Archive | February, 2013

Sappho.

28 Feb

Sappho, roman fresco

Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that began growing on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Of the paintings which survive from the Roman classical world, many are frescoes from the area of Campania around Naples. Campania includes Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other towns whose buildings, paintings, and sculptures were preserved by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. Romans used painted decoration to visually open up and lighten their living spaces. They copied or imitated many of their paintings from Hellenistic Greek originals. This Roman fresco was found in Pompeii. It shows the young woman ‘Sappho’, who was an ancient Greek poet greatly admired in all ages for the beauty of her writing style.

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Fallen warrior.

27 Feb

Dying Gaul Hellenistic Greece

This statue shows a fallen warrior straining to support himself on one arm as blood gushes from a wound in his side. He represents a Gallic warrior with a typically Gallic hairstyle and moustache. He lies on his fallen shield while his sword and other objects lie beside him. Hellenistic sculptures, situated around 330 – 146 BC, where an absolute highlight because of their vividness and individuality. There is a clear appearance of anatomy and movement: the musculature is accentuated and the artists showed a great preference for complicated compositions. In essence we can talk about an extreme realism. The human being is no longer placed forward as an ideal image, but as a reality. Expressions of feelings and passions are no longer hidden. People are shown just as they are.

Aphrodite, nude for the first time.

26 Feb

Aphrodite Knidos Praxiteles Greece

Aphrodite is a goddess of great meaning in Greek mythology. She is the goddess of love, beauty, sexuality and fertility. Back in 390-330 BC the ‘Aphrodite of Cnidus’ by Praxiteles claims its position in ancient Greek art as the first monumental cult statue of a goddess to be represented completely nude. The popularity was expressed through an endless stream of imitations and replicas. It can be seen as the starting point of a new history in art, as this introduction of the monumental female nude occurred at least three centuries after the introduction of the monumental male nude statue. It is a history that sexually defines the represented woman by her complete nudity and, on that account, keeps her in a perpetual state of vulnerability.

Temple of colours.

25 Feb

paintings on Greek temple

For many of us, ancient Greece equals gleaming white marble temples and palaces. But in fact, temples and public buildings of the time exploded with colour. The finest of white marbles were whitewashed and painted. Three basic colours were used: white, blue and red, occasionally also black. Only the details or decorative elements were painted, while the columns were mostly kept white. Archaeologists and historians know about this tradition in ancient Greek architecture, yet little of this information makes its way to the public. One of the reasons is the public refusal to accept Greece (and Rome later on), as being abundantly colourful. The ‘pure white marble temple’ concept is so deeply ingrained in our minds, that when we hear about the colours, we soon tend to forget it.

Kouros, symbol of youth.

24 Feb

anavyss

The kouros is one of the earliest freestanding marble statues from around the 7th century BC. It demonstrates the interest that ancient Greeks had in the male form and is a symbol of youth. It would be used as a tomb stone or as a dedication in the sanctuary of a god. The features are very distinctive: the smile, the outspoken musculature, the rigid posture, the hands closed in fists and the left leg slightly standing forward. The kouros served as an inspiration for Yves Saint Laurent, who launched a very masculine fragrance under the name Kouros, in 1981. The advertisements, still now, totally embody the ancient features and represent strong and attractive young men.

Octopus.

23 Feb

Mycenaen Octopus Styrup Jar

A large, wide-eyed octopus stretches its tentacles across the curved body of this jar. The motif on the jar is naturalistic and there is a great sense of movement. These kind of stirrup jars, designed not to spill and easy to carry, transported oil and wine throughout the Mediterranean during Mycenaean period. Control of the sea was essential for keeping power over their vast domain. The shape of this stirrup jar and its octopus decoration show the importance of the sea as a way of communication and as a source of food and wealth. This terracotta jar can be admired at Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Agamemnon, King of Mycenae.

22 Feb

17MaskOfAgamemnon

Agamemnon is a figure from Greek mythology: he was King of Mycenae and leader of the surrounding seas. One day when he came back from war (1250 BC), he brought with him princess Kassandra from Trojan, as war asset. His wife, Klytaimnestra, killed him for this reason. This dead mask, was found in 1876 by Heinrich Schliemann in a grave circle. There has been much controversy about this discovery and it is proven that the mask is in fact much older than Agamemnon’s time. The name, ‘Mask of Agamemnon’, was never changed. The golden mask indicates a belief in afterlife by the Mycenaean and their skill in forging gold.

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