Classic Greece

Visual Analysis/Museum Paper due, Thursday, October 26

Detail of a Corinthian vase showin a Hoplite battle, ca. 560 BCE.











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

Kroisos from Anavysos, ca. 530 BCE. Marble with remnants of paint, 6' 4" high.





















Menkuare and His Wife, Queen Khamerernebty, from Giza. c. 2525 BCE. Slate, height 54 1/2".
Kroisos from Anavysos, ca. 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, ca. 560 BCE. Marble, restored height 5' 5".










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











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











painted Kore

Reconstruction of a painted Kore











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, ca. 625 - 600 BCE. 1' 2" high.











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






















Greek Pantheon
"Man is the measure of all things." - Protagoras
supreme god and god of the sky
Zeus gives birth to Dionysos
goddess of marriage, and married women
god of the sea
goddess of corn, fruit and agriculture
god of the sun, music and poetry
goddess of the moon, hunting and chastity
goddess of wisdom, law, math, war strategy
goddess of love and beauty
god of eloquence and speech
god of war
god of wine and merrymaking
Zeus, seated on a rock, gives birth to the god Dionysos from his thigh. Hermes stands by holding the royal sceptre of his father in one hand, and in his other, his own herald’s wand. Attic Red Figure, ca. 470 - 460 BCE.











The Classic Period
ca. 480 - 323 BCE
Calf-bearer, ca. 570 BCE. Marble, 65" high.
Kroisos (Kouros from Anavysos), ca. 525 BCE. Marble, height 6'4".
Kritios Boy, ca. 480 BCE. Marble, height 46".











not contrapposto
contrapposto = the disposition of the human figure in which one part is turned in opposition to another part (usually hips and legs one way, shoulders and chest another), creating a counterpositioning of the body along its central axis.
not a contrapposto pose
contrapposto pose













Polykleitos, Doryphoros (Spear Bearer), Roman copy after an original of ca. 450 - 440 BCE.
Marble, 6' 11" high.











Polykleitos' principle of symmetria
In the mid fifth century BCE, the sculptor Polykleitos of Argos set out make a "perfect" statue constructed according to an all-encompassing mathematical formula, the Pythagorean theorem. - Janson's
"[Beauty consists] in the proportions, not the elements, but of the parts, that is to say, of finger to finger, and of all the fingers to the palm and the wrist, and of these to the forearm, and of the forearm to the upper arm, and of all the other parts to each other" - Gardner's History of Art
How Art Made the World










Riace Warrior A
Riace Warrior A, found in the sea off Riace, Italy, ca. 450 BCE. Bronze, height 6' 8".
Riace Warrior B, found in the sea off Riace, Italy, ca. 450 BCE. Bronze, height 6' 8".











Lost-Wax Casting Process