The Ancient Greeks became known for their perfection in art. During the classical era they developed their own style that historians would later call the Severe Style.
Periods of Greek Art
Archaic Period: The Greeks from the Archaic Period made sculptures of men called Kouroi and women called Korai. These statues had similar features and stood stiffly with their arms at their sides.
Classical Period: During the Classical Period, Greek artists began to sculpt people in more relaxed postures and even in action scenes. The most famous works from this era include the statue of Zeus at Olympia and the statue of Athena at Parthenos.
The statue of Athena at Parthenos Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen
Hellenistic Period: After Alexander the Great conquered much of Asia, the sculpture and artwork of the Greeks became influenced by the cultures and people they had conquered. This period is called the Hellenistic Period. This period saw new subjects including women, children, and common people appear in Greek art. Famous works from this era include the Venus de Milo, the Dying Gaul, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
Winged Victory of Samothrace Photo by Adrian Pingstone
Greek sculpture was meant to show perfection. They wanted to create lifelike images of near perfect humans. Unlike the Romans, the Greeks never showed human imperfections in their art.
Greek Architecture was intertwined with their art. A big part of their architecture was their columns. The Greek columns have been used in western architecture for the past 2500 years.
In Greek Architecture there were three main types of columns that were used: The Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. See below for examples.
Corinthian Column Source: Encyclopedie vol. 18
Written record shows that the Greeks enjoyed painting and that it was one of their most important types of art. However, very few of their paintings have survived as they were painted on wood panels or walls which have since been destroyed.
One place where Greek painting did survive was on pottery and ceramics. We can tell from the intricate detail and quality of work that the Greeks were very talented painters.
Vase by Unknown
A shoulder Lekythos by Unknown
Greek art and architecture had a significant influence over western art for thousands of years to come. Much of Roman art and architecture was borrowed from the Greeks. Later, the artists of the Renaissance were inspired by the work of Greek artists.
Interesting Facts about Ancient Greek Art
Many of the original Greek sculptures were painted in bright colors and often included elements other than stone such as metal and ivory.
The painting of pottery was considered a high art form. The artists often signed their work.
The most famous of the Greek sculptors was Phidias. He was the artistic director of the Parthenon.
The Greeks used the lost-wax process to make bronze statues. This made it easy to make multiple copies of a statue.