The primary focus of ancient Greek sculptures was that of the human body. Almost all Greek sculptures are of nude subjects. As the first society to focus on nude subjects, Greek sculptors attempted to "depict man in what they believed was the image of the gods and so would come to celebrate the body by striving for verisimilitude or true – likeness (realism and naturalism!)."(Riffert) Not only did the Greeks celebrate the human form in their art but also in everyday life. (Riffert) One of the favorite topics for sculptors was that of the athlete. In Greek culture athletes were described as "hero–athletes". (Riffert) This shows that athletes were revered and looked upon as heroes. The influence of athleticism is evident in many famous sculptures. I will attempt to show how the human form influenced Greek art. It is important to note that many of the Greek sculptures discussed do not exist in their original form but rather in Roman copies of the original bronze sculptures. (Riffert)
Greek art progressed through four divisible periods from ninth century B.C. to the second century B.C. The primary subject matter for all of these periods was humans. (Sowerby, 150) Each period progressed further than the last with developing the human form and making it continually more realistic and natural. (Boardman, 275) The most basic human forms were depicted in the Geometric period where triangles and ovals were used to make a rough human form. The Archaic period came next with artists slowly moving away from set geometric figures and incorporating more human detail into their art. Great change in art came in the Classical period. Sowerby states this by saying: "The classical artist concentrates up...
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...in our readings. Understanding the importance of the athlete to the Greeks will further our understanding of why so much of their art is focused on athletes and athletic events. It is important to understand that everyday Greek culture is depicted by Greek art.
"Greek artists…explored people’s experienced, interactions with the natural world,and human relations to the gods. Everyday people were represented in Greek art…" (Emory)
Boardman, John, Jasper, Griffin, and Oswyn Murray. The Oxford History of the Classical World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986
Sowerby, Robin. The Greeks: An Introduction to Their Culture. London: Routledge, 1995.
Riffert, David. The Academy of Art College. 1997. Web. 16 Jan. 2015
"The Olympics" Web. 16 Jan. 2015 http://olympics.tufts.edu/pentathlon.html.
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