Ancient Greek Art

Ariel Oeffinger

Greek Styles in Art

The arts of Ancient Greece have exercised considerable influence on the culture of many countries all over the world, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture.

The art of Ancient Greece are usually divided stylistically into four periods: the Geometric, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic.

There was no sharp transition from one period to another. Forms of art developed at different speeds in different parts of the Greek world, and as in any age some artists worked in more innovative styles than others.

Greek Sculpture

Within the Parthenon stood a giant statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and the protector of Athens. Pericles entrusted much of the work on the temple, including the statue of Athena, to the sculptor Phidias. The great statue of the goddess not only contained precious materials such as gold and ivory, it stood 38 feet tall.

Phidias and other sculptors during this golden age aimed to create figured that were graceful, strong, and perfectly formed. Their faces showed neither laughter nor anger, only serenity.

Greek Architecture

Architecture is the art of designing and creating buildings. Greek architecture is a very specific and influential type of design, which was based off of the post-and-lintel system The post-and-lintel system is made up of columns, which are large upright posts, with a roof, or architrave, over the top.

Even though it seems simple, the Greeks created a wonderful and lasting legacy of architecture. The columns and architraves were carved with leaves and flowers, scenes of battles, and mythological creatures. The columns were decorated with lines and bases, and capitals, which topped off the columns and connected the architraves.

"We admire the work of art but despise the maker of it" -Plutarch (Life of Pericles, II)

Greek Art Influence today

Greeks believed that all art was derived from godly beings called the muses. In fact, the word music was originally used for all forms of art, even though today the word only refers to art created through the production of sounds. Ancient Greek art is commonly referred to today as Classical art, although the influence of those master artists has survived throughout the ages.

The influence of Greek art upon Western civilization and consequently the entire world cannot be understated. The poetry of Homer has been mirrored and alluded to by some of the greatest writers in the English language, with one of the greatest novels of all time, "Ulysses" by James Joyce, being based upon the story of "The Odyssey." The architecture of Ancient Greece can be found in various forms in many of the US governmental buildings, such as the Lincoln Memorial and the US Capitol Building. The style of sculpture influenced such great Italian artists such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci in both their sculptures and their paintings.