DokkDraws

DokkDraws

20-04-2022

18:43

THREAD: The evolution of Greek vase painting, and why it suddenly disapeared

You will see some similarities in style&influence in contemporary statues. Once again, we begin with the Cycladic culture. This early bronze-age culture seemingly preferred simpler styles, with lines and plain geometry. The color changes are accidental.

Their style probably influenced the later Minoan civilisation which began flourishing in Crete throughout the 3rd-2nd Millenium BC. Early Minoan pottery had very similar decorations, mostly stripes with some waves or simple fishes

Starting around 2000BC, their style began to include complex floral and later marine patterns

By the turn of the Millenium, depictions of marine life became very popular, perhaps coincidng with the marine frescos visible at the palace of Knossos

The Mycenean culture,originating in mainland Greece which usurped the Minoans shortly afterwards, was perhaps influenced by these marine patterns, but they clearly brought some of their own influences. Their first pottery probably originated from Minoan settlers.

When the Myceneans began making their own pottery, they introduced their trademark stripes/bands, which even remain in copies of minoan vases. Keep an eye out for them, they will remain relevant for a long time.

When the bronze age came to a violent end after 1200BC, so did the myceneans, as well as civilisation in Greece, for some time. Not much is known about this time period, but civilisation came back in Attica around 1000BC.

The first pottery made in this new age was rather simple, but some mycenean influence remained: those black stripes. The proto-geometric style is restricted to purely abstract elements and often includes broad horizontal bands and circles. Most of the surface remained plain.

Towards the end of the Greek dark ages, 900-700BC, these Geometric patterns became more elaborate, occasionally figures or plants were depicted too. Note the warlike character of the human depictions.

After 700BC, the Greeks once went out into the world, and not just their statues but also their vases were influenced by these foreign styles, later known as the Orientalizing Period. More depictions of animals, greater detail, mythological motifs.

Around the later 600s, the greeks slowly got tired of animals, and painters now knew how to use incisions to create lines within the formerly black silhuettes. This process was promptly applied to human motifs, although animals remained dominant for a while.

The Process was eventually refined and became known as black-figure pottery after 600 BC, the archaic age. Notable for their black figures and usually orange backgrounds and greater attention to detail, as well as a focus on humans. Sometimes, white was used as a third color.

By the end of the 500s, Athenian artists inversed this process, by painting the background and lines instead. While this process initially eliminated the use of white paint nevertheless replaced the old style. Note that the examples are from the same vase, but different painters

By 500BC, all reputable painters used the new style, which caused black-figure to decline and go out of production shortly afterwards. It was only in Etruria, northern Italy where a a modified, more colourful version of this style lived on a little longer.

While a skilled artist could create great levels of detail with the old technique, it was simply easier to use a brush, which additionally enabled new types of lines.

Around the same time, a much more obscure style became popular: The rare white-ground pottery was usually reserved for ritual purposes due to the fragile nature of the white colors. The white color and dyed figures give this style a very distinct appearance

By the mid-300s the art of vase painting began to reach its limits, with painters trying complex perspectives, and generally putting a lot of everything into the pictures. Perhaps these artists were trying to imitate contemporary frescoes on the small vases.

By the beginning of the hellenistic period, complex vase-painting virtually stopped, with the last such vases made while Alexander the Great was still alive. Now, Greek painters focused their efforts on frescos, paintings and mosaics which were frequently copied by Romans

While virtually none of the hellenistic greek paintings survive, their wax portaits made in roman times continued to influence later byzantine styles,

After vase paintings died out in greece, distinct styles briefly developed in Magna Graecia, but eventually were replaced by other media too. And so this style was forgotten, never adapted by the romans, and less monumental than statues.

More examples of late greco-roman frescos and mosaics

Do note the similarity to roman infantry in the greek soldier depicted in the fresco above



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