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OUTLINE FOR LATE CLASSICAL GREEK ART

OUTLINE FOR LATE CLASSICAL GREEK ART - OUTLINE FOR LATE...

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OUTLINE FOR LATE CLASSICAL GREEK ART Historical Background: (400 - 323 BCE) Bankrupted by the Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 BCE) Athens and the other Greek city states could no longer afford the services of their artists who began to seek commissions from wealthy foreign dynasts on the periphery of the Greek world, including the Greek- speaking kings of Macedonia in the northern part of the Balkan peninsula. The best known examples of this dynamic are the * Mausoleum (the kolossal tomb of King Mausolus and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world) at Halikarnassos (modern Bodrum), the capital of the kingdom of Caria (Karia) on the coast of Asia Minor, and the kolossal portrait statue of the king that stood inside the building (Website images). The results are a non-Greek type of building and a statue of a non- Greek ruler expressed in Greek architectural and sculptural vocabulary, essentially the combination of Greek and non-Greek elements that will characterize much of the art of the succeeding Hellenistic period. The Peloponnesian War had also shown the Greek city state to be morally and politically bankrupt, no longer a viable form of government for meeting the challenges of the time. Consequently, traditional Greek belief in the Olympian gods and goddesses, the religion that had lent sacred significance to the central values of the city state, lost its appeal. This development manifests itself in the arts as images of these deities are brought down from their Olympian heights, and, though still idealized physically, are depicted as human, involved in the banal activities of mortals, e.g. * the sculptures of Praxiteles - the Hermes and Dionysos and the Aphrodite of Knidos (Janson figs. 5.56, 5.57, and website images). Another result of this loss of belief in the group mentality of the city state is the increasing importance of the individual, and an increased humanism, a sense that one's primary responsibility is to one's fellow man rather than to any discredited conception of deity. Though the mortally wounded independent city state form of government struggled on for another 60 years, until ca. 340 B.C., political philosophers, disillusioned with the excesses of democracy and how easily the people were led astray, mainly into stupid wars, came to think that, of the political systems available at the time, an enlightened and benign monarchy, with its autocratic efficiency, was the only viable replacement for the city state. This development finds its fulfillment in the conquest of Greece by king Philip II of Macedon and his even more talented son, Alexander the Great . These men unite the city states of Greece in the form of the Corinthian League and together the Macedonians and Greeks wage a war of revenge against the Persian Empire. Having conquered the Persian Empire, Alexander, a military genius and a radical social visionary, dies at Babylon on his return from India in 323 B.C. at the age of 31, the event that inaugurates the Hellenistic period.
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ARCHITECTURE AND ARCHITECTURAL SCULPTURE : *Mausoleum at Halikarnassos , 356-350 BCE (Janson fig. 5.22)
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