From the earliest cave paintings and decorative pots, artists have striven for realism. It was not until the Greeks however that men first learned how to perfectly imitate life with art. The Greeks attempted to perfect this until they were finally successful with the “Kritios Boy”, which was the perfect visual representation of a human being yet sculpted. The Greeks would learn a lesson however, upon reaching this pinnacle. They learned that we as human beings are looking for reality in our art. We are looking for exaggeration. Reality was boring essentially and far too common to was art on it. So instead of being happy with their success Greek artists sought an entirely new way of looking at art. In the Greek mind men were all endowed with a spark of the divine. This spark should be properly represented in not only creating the truly realistic human figure but one with the exaggerated aspects of deity.
While the Greeks continued in this hyper realistic for a brief period, producing such masterpieces as Zeus of Artemiseion, the bulk of artists began looking for nearly subliminal ways to exaggerate their creations in meaningful but nearly imperceptible ways. But there are many different aspects to this that need to be understand about the time period that this was happening. The artists of the day worked in sometime brutal conditions. There were no scholarships to be had and if you were lucky enough to find a patron you might just as easily found your way into slavery. The tiny nation had recently began a novel new political experiment however and this would actually encourage the development of art.
Surrounded by three Continents, all ruled over by Tyrannical Dictators, A small City-Stateon a windswept plain decided that the best way to rule their passionate people was not with a single strong arm with with the arms of all citizens. The Greeks were by nature a very passionate people but were also a very rational people. The only way for a democracy to work was for all citizens to learn to discipline themselves and control their baser instincts. This sense of control led to perfection but it was the Greeks rationalist outlook that led to them taking the next step into abstraction-ism, which would lead to a great number of advances in art throughout the centuries.
The Greeks discovered that people do not like to look at things that look like them. So in subsequent sculptures they began to exaggerate certain features. Feet and hands sometimes became larger or smaller, noses extended, muscles bulged slightly beyond the human potential, breasts grew to sometimes immense proportions, all became the norm instead of the exception. This lead to the creation of sculptures that were human, but more than human in someways. In a sense, this was the Greeks first success in merging man´s humanity with his essentially divine nature.
Joanna Beaumont is also a guest writer today and has several blogs she writes for. Among them are ScholarshipScouts.org , Ezine Articles, and Buzzle.