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Introduction to Greek Art II: The Classical Period (CLASSICS 162)

102
Subject: 
ARTHIST

The class begins with the art, architecture and political ideals of Periclean Athens, from the emergence of the city as the political and cultural center of Greece in 450 to its defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404. It then considers how the Athenians (shell-shocked from war and three outbreaks of plague) and the rest of 4th century Greece rebuild their lives and the monuments that define them. Earlier 5th century traditions endure, with subtle changes, in the work of sculptors such as Kephisodotos. Less subtle are the outlook and output of his son Praxiteles. In collaboration with Phryne, his muse and mistress, Praxiteles challenged the canons and constraints of the past with the first female nude in the history of Greek sculpture. His gender-bending gods and men were equally audacious, their shiny surfaces reflecting Plato's discussion of Eros and androgyny. Scopas was also a man of his time, but pursued different interests. Drawn to the interior lives of men and woman, his tormented Trojan War heroes and victims are still scarred by memories of the Peloponnesian War, and a world away from the serene faces of the Parthenon. His Maenad, who has left this world for another, belongs to the same years as Euripides' Bacchae and, at the same time, anticipates the torsion and turbulence of Bernini and the Italian Baroque. The history and visual culture of these years remind us that we are not alone, that the Greeks grappled as we do with the inevitability and consequences of war, disease and inner daemons.