Classic Greek Statuary

Bensussen Speaker, Dr. Maria Elena Buszek tonight, AF 209 @ 7 PM!!

Reminder! Assignment 2 due on Wednesday!
Kritios Boy, c. 480 BCE. Marble, height 46".










Ancient Greece in Context
Geometric Style after 900 to 700 BCE
776 BCE
First Olympic games
Archaic Period 600 - 480 BCE
First life-size Greek statues with "Archaic smile"
Innovations in black and red-figure vase painting
Construction of oldest peripteral Doric and Ionic temples
750 - 700 BCE
Homer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey
Orientalizing Style 700 to 600 BCE
563 BCE
Siddhartha (founder of Buddhism) born in Nepal
510 - 508 BCE
Athens establishes first democracy, "deme"
Classic Period ca. 480 to 323 BCE
480 - 479 BCE
Persians invade Greece, Athenians defeat Persians at the Battle of Marathon
Polykleitos formulates canon of proportions
Corinthian order introduced in temple architecture
after 447 BCE
Athenians rebuild the Acropolis
431 - 404 BCE
Peloponnesian Wars/ Sparta conquers Athens
363 BCE
Alexander the Great comes to power and begins to spread Greek ways across the East
Hellenistic Period 323 to 30 BCE











Dipylon Vase

Before the Archaic Period, Janson's posits, " o Greeks saw realm of dead “as a colorless, ill-defined region where souls, or ‘shades,’ led a feeble and passive existence without making demands upon the living.”
  • A paradox exists between the rich literature of Homer and the “simple/provincial” character of the Geometric style
  • “Greek civilization was so language-minded that painting and sculpture were less important than in centuries later.” –Janson
Geometric Style krater known as a "Dipylon Vase," from the Dipylon Cemetery, c. 740 BCE. Ceramic, Height 42 5/8".











Archaic Period
ca. 600 - 480 BCE


(Standing Youth) Kouros, from Attica, c. 600 BCE. Marble, 6' ½" high.
Kroisos from Anavysos, c. 530 BCE. Marble with remnants of paint, 6' 4" high.











Getty Kouros

A kouros is a statue of a standing nude youth that did not represent any one individual youth but the idea of youth. Used in Archaic Greece as both a dedication to the gods in sanctuaries and as a grave monument, the standard kouros stood with his left foot forward, arms at his sides, looking straight ahead. Carved in from four sides, the statue retained the general shape of the marble block. Archaic Greek sculptors reduced human anatomy and musculature in these statues to decorative patterning on the surface of the marble.

The kouros embodies many of the ideals of the aristocratic culture of Archaic Greece. One such ideal of this period was arete, a combination of moral and physical beauty and nobility. Arete was closely connected with kalokagathia, literally a composite term for beautiful and good or noble. - The Getty Museum

Getty Kouros, c. 530 BCE, or modern forgery. Marble, 81 1/8" x 21 1/2".











Menkuare and His Wife, Queen Khamerernebty, from Giza. c. 2525 BCE. Slate, height 54 1/2".
Kroisos from Anavysos, c. 530 BCE. Marble with remnants of paint, 6' 4" high.











Calf bearer

“During the Archaic period, we see the unfolding of the artistic genius of Greece, not only in vase painting, but also in architecture and in sculpture.” – Janson's History of Art

  • Sappho wrote poetry on island of Lesbos
  • Aesop told animal fables still re-told today
  • Growing prosperity meant more public and private funding of arts
Calf bearer, Athens, c. 560 BCE. Marble, restored height 5' 5".











The Archaic or "Kouros" smile
Calf-bearer, c. 560 BCE. Marble, 65" high.
Kroisos (Kouros from Anavysos), c. 530 BCE. Marble, height 6' 4".






















Berlin Kore
Kore in Ionian dress
Berlin Kore, c. 570 - 560 BCE. Marble with remnants of red paint, height 6' 3".
Kore in Ionian dress (Chios), from the Acropolis, Athens, c. 520 - 510 BCE. Marble, 1' 9" high.











painted Kore
Plaster reconstruction of the Peplos Kore
Plaster reconstruction of Chios Kore 











Kroisos (Kouros from Anavysos), c. 530 BCE. Marble, height 6' 4".











Black-Figure Style
Corinthian black-figure style

Along with a newly developed taste for monumental sculpture, Archaic period artists developed a starkly different tradition in vase painting. By mid-sixth century, Athenian painters adopt black-figure style from Corinthians.

  • Silhouette design against red colored clay
  • Internal details scratched with needle-like tool
  • Technique favors a decorative, two-dimensional effect
Corinthian black-figure amphora with animal friezes, from Rhodes, c. 625 - 600 BCE. 1' 2" high.











Common Greek Vessel Shapes and Uses
transportation of goods
water jar
mixing wine and water
ceremonial oil jar
pouring wine
cup for drinking
cup for drinking, sometimes purely decorative











Dionysos in a boat
Exekias, Dionysos in a Boat. Interior of an Attic black-figured kylix, c. 540 BCE. Diameter 12".





















Red-Figure Style

Limitations of black-figure style led to development of red-figure style, gradually replacing black-figure style by 500 BCE.

  • Red figures against black background
  • Forms drawn with brush or by squeezing paint through animal bladder
  • Allows for greater detail and realism
    • Consequently, see far less use of profile view
    • Allows for greater foreshortening and three-dimensional effects
  • Less tedious technique allowed more freedom
Theseus Slaying The Minotaur, Amphora, 460 BCE.











Herakles wrestling Antaios
Psaiax, Herakles Wrestling the Nemean Lion, amphora, ca. 525 BCE.
Euphronios, Herakles Wrestling Antaios, Athenian red-figure calyx krater from Cerveteri, Italy, ca. 510 BCE.











Exekias, Achilles and Ajax Playing a dice game, black-figure amphora, from Vulci, Italy,
ca. 540 - 530 BCE. 2' high.
Andokides Painter, Achilles and Ajax playing a dice game, from Orvieto, Italy. Red-figured side.
ca. 523 - 520 BCE. 1' 9" high.











Douris, Eos and Memnon, Interior of an Attic red-figured kylix. ca. 490 – 480 BCE. Diameter 10 ½".