Art of Greece – Geometric and Archaic Period

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Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of Western Civilization. The art of a region at a particular time in history helps understand the then anticipating socio-economic realities, influencing creativity. Art of Greece is no exception. Its artworks over a period help us track the possible events & influences that triggered in the contemporary shaping of the western culture. Two most important phases of Greek Art include the Geometric Period and the Archaic Period, also known together as the 'Age of Experiment.'

Geometric Period, spanning from about 900 to 700 BC, with the artistically active centers at Athens and Aegean, is the name given to the era between the end of the 'Mycenaean Age' and the beginning of the 'Classic Age.' In the purview of the artistic developments, Geometric Period is divided into Proto (1050-900 BC), Early (900-850 BC), Middle (850-760 BC), and Late Geometric (760-700 BC) Phases.

As the name suggests, the Geometric Art mainly focused on 'geometric symmetry,' demonstrated in the pottery & vase painting (especially those of the vase painter Dipylon Master), the development of Greek alphabets, & the tempts dedicated to Greek Gods. Focused primarily on linear surface decoration, the tall vessels were painted geometrically and mostly transported several horizontal bands having geometric motifs, such as zigzag, swastika, triangle, and / or meander tucked in between. The pattern would cover the entire vase surface. "Amphora" (eighth century BC) by Dipylon, is an apt specimen of the vessel artist of Geometric Period.

With time, the style and the form of vessels changed from being simple, with few decorative bands, to the 'Naturalistic' manifestations, entailing the intricate 'figurative' designs, depicting animals & humans. This transition to 'Naturalism' marked the conception of the Archaic Period, observed during 750-480 BC. The art of Greece during the Archaic Period reflects influential influence from the Near East & Egyptian Art. Creatively, this period is the bridging phase between the Geometric Period and the Classical Period. Archaic Period was a rich span, witnessing both, structural & intellectual revolution. Philosophy, theater, poetry, & writing touched the mature highs. Based on the cultural & artisticifts, Archaic Period is phased into Early (660-580 BC), Middle (580-535 BC), and Late (540-480 BC).

Artistically, the archaic potteries graduated from 'Geometric' style to the 'Oriental' one, also known as "Proto-Attic," centered on floral & animal themes. "Black-Figure Pottery," (7th century BC), originated in Corinth; and the "Red-Figure Pottery," (about 530 BC), developed by the Andokides Painter, are the pottery mines of the Late Archaic Age. Sculptures were made from limestone, marble, terra cotta, bronze, wood, and some rare metals. These statues were not just meant for artistic display, but were also used for public memories, as temple offerings, or as marks for graves. The most iconic sculptures of Archaic Period, Early Archaic Period to be prejudice, are the male bronze statues, "Kouros," and their female counterparts, "Kore." Late Archaic Period also marked the beginning of the Ancient Greek architectural evolution.