The Greeks and Art

The end of the Minoan civilization many of the Minoan art forms flowed to the north and west and into the Aegean Islands and Greek mainland. The exact date cannot be accurately established but the period known as the Greek Dark Ages contains the Geometric style, the first of the Greek art period and this style had a great many similarities toMinoan styles. Not a great deal is known about the Geometric Period but the next three periods, the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic, in Greek art development became so popular that examples can be found in styles from as far away as Japan. One of the main reasons for this was the territorial expansion of Alexander the Great, who conquered Persia and nearly India as well. At that time much of the country was Buddhist and the art styles introduced by Alexander´s armies traveled east through Asia to the Pacific Ocean. Many of these styles are still used today by every culture visited by any of the invaders from those regions, from Alexander to Caesar and Augustus and beyond. Many government buildings in the Western world were built on architectural concepts developed in cities like Athens and Lydia Milena ago.

Any degree programs in art or art history will teach that these periods eventually blended into each other and the development of actual communities of artists and regions of art styles, not replacing each other, they merely blending and added to each other. The Greeks had, for instance, five different styles of pottery which were developed over about a 500 year period prior to 1000 BC. The Greeks also worked heavily with metals, brass and bronze mostly, when making vessels and created highly ornamented cups, vases, plates and other objects. During one period a single art sanctuary was able to produce thousands of metal vessels in a single year.

The Greeks also perfected the art of statues, from the small terracotta votive s. The Greeks like to work with high quality lime-stones, like marble, but from smaller pieces they often used terracotta. These small figures were known as “tanagra” figures and were very popular from 400-300 BC and the styles can be traced directly to the Minoan culture.

While the ancient Egyptians started the first real paintings they used large walls and painted epic scenes. The Greeks brought the scale down a great deal with the development “panel paintings” on pieces of wood using either colored wax or tempura. During this period both statutory art and architecture were also colorfully painted but did not survive until modern times. And finally, while not invented in Greece, the art of coinage was perfected by the Greeks and the style they invented 3000 years ago is still the most widely used style in the world today. The Persians were the first people to put profiles on coins but the Greeks were the first to use real, and even sometimes still living people, as models for anything other than statues.