Polykleitos of Argoswas
(Top Image: “Terrain: Hermes And Apollo Flanking The Nine Muses“)
Greek Art began to take shape during the fifth century B.C. in Athens, Greece, when a gold-and-ivory statue of Athena Parthenos was created by an early Greek sculptor named Phidias and erected inside of the Doric Temple.
Phidias was one of the most influential names in early Greek art, and he paved the way for many other great artists of the era. Few original Ancient Greek statues remain today due to the fragility of the stone. However, from what has been discovered, it is clear that sculptors such as Phidias were able to successfully depict the human form, as evident in the piece Laocoon and His Sons by Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydoros. Most early Greek art enthusiasts agree that Phidias created the first realistic statue of another human being around 440 B.C. The sculpture, titled Athena the Virgin, depicts the Greek goddess Athena. Many replicas of this piece have been made, and many other works were inspired by it. Building on the same concepts as Phidias, Polykleitos of Argos began to create realistic statues capturing human beauty, including the famous Doryphoros, or Spear-Bearer. Polykleitos’s ultimate goal was to capture the ideal proportions of the human body by using a set of principals often referred to as canon. Although the exact formula is not known today, the system is known to have involved dividing the body into parts and measuring them for accuracy. Most of the great artists of Ancient Greece aimed for perfection in their work. This included sculptors, writers, and painters alike. Although they realized that perfection might not be obtainable, most artists of this area continued to strive for it with each piece they created. While their depictions of human bodies were often more detailed and proportionate compared to works of earlier years, faces were often devoid of any sort of emotion.
- Venus de Milo, fifth century B.C.
- Discobolos (The Discus Thrower), by Myron, fifth century B.C.
- Winged Victory of Samothrace, third to first century B.C.
- Laocoon and His Sons, by Agesander, Athenodoros, and Polydoros, fourth century B.C.
- Bronze Sculpture, fourth century B.C.
- Most artists painted their sculptures in bright colors and often constructed them of materials other than stone.
- Phidias directed the construction of the Parthenon.
- Early Greek artists were known to always sign their work.