Winged Sandals  


Greek Art: Vase painting and sculpture

There were many skilled artists in the world of the ancient Greeks. They are particularly famous for their vases and sculptures. Many ancient Greek vases and sculptures can be found in museums and art galleries around the world today. Most Greek art depicts people, gods or animals. The Greeks artists had little interest in showing landscapes, buildings or bowls of fruit. Most Greek art illustrated scenes from myth.

Greek Vases

The Greeks made vases in many different shapes and sizes. Some were made of metal, but most of the ones that have survived were made of clay. A lot of the shapes are considered particularly beautiful, but it is the decoration of these clay vases that is most admired. The Greeks usually decorated their vases by covering them with a very thin layer of a special type of clay mixture. Sometimes, they would paint people, animals and patterns with this mixture, leaving the rest of the pot blank. When the pot was fired, the mixture turned black, but the rest of the pot turned red/orange; this is called black-figure. Sometimes, they left the space for the people, animals and patterns blank and painted all around them, so that the figures would stay red/orange and the background turn black; this is called red-figure. The artists also sometimes added white or purple paint as well.

Many scenes on the vases depict events from Greek myth. We can learn a lot about how the Greeks saw their gods and heroes from these vases. Other Greek vases show scenes from daily life. These are also an important source of information for us today about how the Greeks lived.

Sculptures and Statues

The ancient Greeks are also famous for their sculptures. They created many statues. They used statues of people as gifts for the gods or sometimes placed them on graves to remember what the dead looked like. The Greeks also worshipped statues of gods in their temples. Famous people might have their statue displayed in the agora. Most statues depicted men, women or gods. Small statues were made of clay or bronze. Large statues were usually made of either marble or bronze. Although the statues as we see them today are undecorated, in ancient times they were painted and were often bright and colourful.

Statues of the gods were also a very important part of Greek religious life. The statues in temples were often very large and expensive. For example, the statue of Athena in the Parthenon at Athens was almost twelve metres high and was made of gold and ivory. The gold was used to represent her clothes and the ivory for her skin. About 1,144 kilograms of gold was used! A similar statue of Zeus at Olympia, where the Olympic Games used to be held, was considered one of the seven wonders of the world.

Reliefs are sculptures on flat surfaces that stick out. The Greeks used reliefs to decorate buildings – especially temples – and on gravestones. On gravestones they would usually show the dead person but on temples the reliefs usually showed scenes from myth. These were also usually painted in ancient times.

Other Ancient Greek Arts

The ancient Greeks also practised many other arts. They painted pictures, though very few examples have survived till today. They also created some very fine gold jewellery and made mosaics. Another great specialty of Greek artistic flair is architecture, which you can learn about here.

Places in Australia Where You Can See Greek Art

Melbourne :
Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne
»vm.arts.unimelb.edu.au/ or www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/
National Gallery of Victoria
Museum of Mediterranean Antiquities, Monash University (open only by appointment)
»www.arts.monash.edu.au/archaeology/museum.html

Canberra :
Classics Museum, Australian National University

Adelaide :
Museum of Classical Archaeology, University of Adelaide (currently not open)

Sydney :
Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney
»www.usyd.edu.au/nicholson/
Museum of Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University

Brisbane :
Antiquities Museum, University of Queensland

Hobart :
John Elliot Classics Museum, University of Tasmania
»www.utas.edu.au/docs/museum/museum.html

Armidale :
Museum of Antiquities, University of New England
» www.une.edu.au/~arts/Museum/AntqMusBrochure.html

Places in New Zealand Where You Can See Greek Art

Otago Museum, Dunedin
»www.otagomuseum.govt.nz/Human_History/human_history.html
James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
»www.clas.canterbury.ac.nz/logie.html

The World's Most Important Collections of Greek Art

In Greece :
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
»www.culture.gr/2/21/214/21405m/e21405m1.html
Acropolis Museum, Athens
»www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21101m/e211am01.html
Archaeological Museum of Piraeus
»www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21102m/e211bm02.html
Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
»alexander.macedonia.culture.gr/2/21/211/21116/e211pm01.html

In the Rest of Europe :
British Museum, London, UK
»www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/gr/grhome.html
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK
»www.ashmol.ox.ac.uk/ash/departments/antiquities/a000200.html
The Louvre, Paris, France
»www.louvre.fr/anglais/collec/ager/ager_f.htm
Vatican Museums, Rome, Italy
»www.christusrex.org/www1/vaticano/0-Musei.html
National Archaeological Museum of Naples, Naples, Italy
State Museum of Antiquities, Munich, Germany
Pergamum Museum, Berlin, Germany (German language site)
»www.smb.spk-berlin.de/ant/s.html
Art History Museum, Vienna, Austria
»www.khm.at/homeE3.html
The Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia
»www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_1_1.html

In the USA :
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
»www.metmuseum.org/collections/department.asp?dep=13
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
»www.mfa.org/artemis/collections/ancient.htm
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Other :
»members.lycos.nl/hemea/mus-ov.html

 

Philosophy: Ancient Greek Thinkers
The Olympic Games
Fashion and Food
Religion, Ritual and Worship
Athenian Politics and Government
Greek Architecture: then and now
Greek Art: Vase painting and sculpture
Education in Ancient Times
A Trip to the Theatre

 


CLOSE WINDOW

 
ABC Online Home  ©2003 ABC | Privacy Policy