Abstraction, Symbolism & Spirituality


image Indus Valley Civilization In the Indus valley area now known as Pakistan, an advanced Bronze Age culture rose up about 2500 B.C. and lasted for nearly 1000 years. Scholars do not know how it began or whether its people were related to those who now occupy Southwest Asia. Nomadic tribes called Aryans invaded the Indus River valley, probably from the region north of the Caspian Sea, in 1500 B.C. The Aryan culture became dominant in the area, eclipsing that of its predecessors. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002.

of important projects. As early as 500 BCE artist began to maintain individual reputations for particular excellence in a field of artistry. There was a kind of early renaissance in art around this time starting in Greece and widening to neighboring civilizations. There began an appreciation for the art of art so to speak this probably came about from the organization of society and the education of its inhabitants. Although noble’s and emperors enjoyed the better of this new cultural awareness society also marveled at the ability of the artist and they took pride in their achievements as reflecting positively on society as a hole. It is in these early tracing of history we find the foundation of fine art and its power to unite and enrich society.  With the birth of this new ideal also came the birth of an internal and engaging dialogue among philosophers, artist, poets, musicians, writers etc... One that would last to this day and eventually set the foundations for art throughout the world. This is the primary journey that I will investigate and in doing so explain some of the disparities and awe that come as acknowledged baggage to this extraordinary life for those engaged in the act of creation. This ideal was in part establishing standards for the arts as society became more intellectually advanced so did their sensibilities; the evolution of painting and sculpture strove to become more naturalistic architecture also became more refined and set a standard in design





























Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. image

Greek Architectural Orders The ancient Greeks developed three major architectural styles, or orders, that determined the major features of a temple facade. The Doric is the oldest and simplest order. The Ionic and Corinthian orders added a base to the column and developed a more elaborate scheme for the column’s capital. The entablature (above the columns) also differs in each order. The Greeks where among the first cultures to consciously evolve their art as attitudes in society changed. As one looks at these works below you can see starting from the Archaic period the stiff stylization of an early  Kore  (Young Woman) these works depicted more of an ideal rather than specific individuals. Another early view of the conscious use of symbolism socially accepted at the time. As we move into early Classical we a shift to more naturalistic depiction of form coupled with the power of emotion.

Greek Artist
» Alcamenes (circa late 5th century B.C.)
» Exekias (circa  550-525 B.C.)
» Lysippus (circa 4th century B.C.)
» Myron (circa 490-430 B.C.)
» Phidias (circa 490-430bc)
» Polyclitus (circa 450-420 B.C.)
» Polygnotus (circa 470 and 450 B.C.)
» Praxiteles (circa  390?-330?B.C.)
» Scopas (circa 395-350 B.C.)
» Zeuxis (circa 4th century B.C.)













Archaic
image Nimatallah/Art Resource, NY Peplos Kore An Ancient Greek statue of a standing female figure is called a kore, meaning “young woman.” The Peplos Kore, so called because she wears a loose overdress called a peplos, was presented as an offering to the goddess Athena. She was carved around 530 B.C. and is in the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002.
Early Classicalimage Scala/Art Resource, NY Discobolus The Discobolus (Discus Thrower) is a Roman copy in marble of a statue made by Greek sculptor Myron of Eleutherae in about 450 B.C. The original was made of bronze and was life-size, as is this copy. The composition of this piece incorporates two intersecting arcs, creating a feeling of movement and tension. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002.
Late Classicalimage Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York Hermes Holding the Infant Dionysus Hermes Holding the Infant Dionysus (about 340 B.C.) is attributed to Praxiteles, a Greek sculptor of the Late Classical period. The piece is marble and stands approximately 2 m (7 ft) high. It was originally made for the Temple of Hera at Olympia. This sculpture displays the qualities most desired by artists of the Late Classical period: individualism and naturalism. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002.
Hellenisticimage Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York Venus de Milo Venus de Milo (about 150-100 B.C.) is considered by many art historians to be the ideal of Hellenistic beauty. It was carved out of marble and stands approximately 205 cm (6 ft 10 in) high. It is housed in the Louvre in Paris, France. 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.



























The line in these works represents a beautiful use of geometry forming expressive special tensions. Moving into late classical we see the continued simplification of line and naturalistic posture, and quiet grace. The Greeks captured and idealized proportions and essentially set the bar for high art during this period. As society came under different rules and other cultures started to occupy the city the artist strove to incorporate other subject matter to accommodate a widening cultural diversity. Although these icons broadened there emotional range did as well it sought to capture death, old age, portraiture, any subject that could express the range of human emotion naturalistically. This is a vital shift in art for many reasons the first being that of conscious interpretation of life itself by creating



EgyptianimageErich Lessing/Art Resource, NY Amon-Ra, Father of the Gods The Egyptian god Amon-Ra was a combination of Amon, a god from the city of Thebes, and Ra, the sun god. Amon-Ra is depicted with a hawk’s headsurmounted by a sun disk in this painting from the Tomb of Sennedjum, in Luxor, Egypt. The painting was created around 13 B.C. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
GreekimageScala/Art Resource, NY Paestum Tomb Painting Few paintings on walls or tombs survive from ancient Greece. This scene of men drinking and lounging at a banquet was painted on a tomb at Paestum, Italy, between about 490 and 470 B.C. The painting has since been removed from the tomb and is now housed in Paestum's Archaeological Museum. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. ©
PompeiiimageBridgeman Art Library, London/New York Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii This mural in the Villa of the Mysteries, located in Pompeii, Italy, is thought to depict the initiation rituals of a mystery religion. The Villa of the Mysteries, which was built about 50 B.C., featured a large hall with this mural encircling it. Roman religion was not static; the Romans adopted new gods to help them with specific needs. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. ©



















works that would essentially reflect and represent the state of humanity and the ideals they stood for. Another being the universality found in common expression setting form as a language able to be understood on multiple levels. Before I move on I would like to take a brief look at the Roman works found in Pompeii for several reasons one being the reinforcement that the art produced in this time strove to capture and enhance life to tell stories of religious beliefs and mythology.

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Villa of the Mysteries
photo John Hauser
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House of the Vettii
photo John Hauser
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House of the Vettii
library.ucsc.edu
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Eros Venus