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Art History

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Marissa Usher
Mr. Kirkland Smith
Art History
July 04, 2016

Individual Research

1. What happened on Cycladic island of Thera c. 1650 – 1625 BCE? How did this event lead to the emergence of Greek Civilization around 900 BCE and eventual influence on human history in the West? Make reference to the Aegean Dark Age c. 1100 – 900 BCE.

        On the Cycladic Island in the year c. 1650-1625, there was a massive volcanic eruption which caused a Tsunami that threw so much debris up into the atmosphere making sunlight largely blocked over a very wide area for a couple years. This then led to a decline then eventually, the disappearance of the Minoan civilization which had already dominated the Mediterranean. Couple centuries after the fall of the Minoan, came the fall of the Mycenean.

        During the Dark Ages of Greece, settlements were abandoned and the population had a sudden decrease. Within the three hundred years, the Greeks lived in small groups, and moved constantly due to their lifestyle and livelihood needs. Although they moved frequently, they left no trace for proof or historical record which proved they were illiterate. Eventually they learned to write again. Their hand-writing went from Liner B script used by Myceneans to a more fundamental way of writing by using alphabets (vowles) used by Phoenicians. Eventually, the Greek version of the alphabets then became the base of the alphabets we use today. Although life was painfully harsh for the Greeks, today we still benefit from the period. After: the Mycenean economic and social cultures were destroyed, and all the class hierarchy and hereditary rules were forgotten, it was eventually replaced with new socio-political institutions.

3. What explanations have art historians proposed for the use and cultural significance of the elegant figures of women that have been excavated in the Cyclades? Select two metal objects from Chapter 4: Art of the Ancient Aegean and explain how they were made. What aspects of the processes and details in the objects signal that these Bronze Age artists worked to a high level of technical sophistication?

        White marble were used to create representations of female figures in the Cyclades. They were created with their arms just beneath their breast, and their head tilted a bit back. Besides the nose, the face had no feature so as to be neutral and not depict a specific person. When angled-lines and shapes appear on figurines, this would refer to the way the people would decorate their skin. As in, with the use of: body paint, tattoos, and scars, within life or preparation for burial. Each figurine were created or shaped differently mainly because they signify different meaning. For example: if a figurine had staring eyes, this may be their form of connecting them to their rightful owners, or if the eyes appeared in a different place, it could have been for a healing ritual.

        One metal object would be ‘The Vapheio Cup’ which dates from 1650 to 1450 BCE. This cup was created in a way which the artist would just push up relief forms from a thin sheet of gold. Another simple way would be freehand designs or standard would forms; these were created by experienced goldsmiths. Another objet would be ‘The Mycenean Dagger Blade’ dating back at 1550-1500 BCE. This blade was made of: powdered nigellum, black alloy of lead, copper with sulfur, and silver. These were all rubbed into a very fine engraved in a silver/gold surface, then fused with heat. This blade had a metal within a metal, as well as included a common method of decorating called niello.

        These artist would firstly sculpture/draw the entire design in wood/clay and use it to form a mold for the gold sheet. Gilding was also demanded so as to make paper-thin sheets of hammered gold, fix to surface to be gilded.

5. Discover the ways Hellenistic sculptors departed from the norms of High Classicism. Also, discuss the emergence of a characteristically Greek approach to the representation of the male nude by comparing the Anavysos Kouros (FIG. 5 18) and the Kritios Boy (FIG. 5 23). What has changed and what remains constant?

        When it came to the Hellenistic sculptors, the Greeks intentionally drew out emotions from the audience. This then occurred frequently. The Greeks linked the art to stories which gave it the emotional baseline they needed to draw out from the audience. Each art had emotional stories, which brought forth emotional response appropriate for the art. Simultaneously, Hellenistic arts created some sort of balance and harmony in the work. The new, more dramatic and vivid Hellenistic art now captures extreme energy and pushes viewers to identify other subjects.

        Within the Archaic period, the Anavysos Kouros were much less realistic than the Egyptian statues. As the Greeks progressed, their Kuoros became more realistic. The position, hair style and smile in the Kuoros, reflects the Greek style. There was masculinity and strength in the appearance of the body. Both the Kuoros and the Boy are both symbolic figures of the Greeks ideal of a male youth. When the Greeks entered the Classical Period, the shape of the body became softer, whilst the facial features became vaguer. Eventually, the smile disappeared, which left a calm expression. Boy’s posture and body is much more relaxed compared to that of Kuoros. Kuorose has an upright stiff pose, while Boy has a left hip weight shift. Unlike Greeks, Egyptians did not take weight shifts into account, which proves they were real model.



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