The Greeks during the high classical age (470-430 BC), created standing sculptures of human figures, carved out of limestone and marbles, adapting seventh century Egyptian models. These sculptures were stiff, rigid, decorative, subordinate elements of tombs and temples rather than true sculpture. The range of depictions on heroic nude male (often in athletic contests) and draped female figures were prominent. This was the period when, Athens transformed from the Delian League to a tribute-paying empire; the then Ruler of Greece, Pericles, encouraged programs on art and architecture at Athens and the Athenian shrine at Eleusis (Demeter & Persephone) as part of his democratic reforms. This activity provided steady employment for many architects and sculptors who organized leading workshops in Greece, revolutionizing Greek classical art and architecture. The Parthenon, built by Menesicles and Ictinus, along with the Propylaea (the gateway with the finest paintings and sculpture of the Classical age) crowned the Athenian Acropolis. Other prominent works included The Panhellenic shrines, Delphi (oracle of Apollo) and Olympia (the shrine of Zeus). Delphi (460 BC) is the athlete offering libation of oil from patera (sacrificial bowl) in thanks for victory.
Ancient Greece produced some of the most exquisite sculptures the world has ever seen. The art reminiscence the freedom of movement, expression, and celebrates mankind as an independent entity. The great artisans of that period worked tirelessly to show the world what artistry could do for mankind. They replaced the strict asymmetry of figures with the free flowing form more true to life, through stone and bronze.
The Greeks were fond of their history and most of the sculptures that adorned important government and other prominent buildings were those of the Kouros. Kouros statues dominated the archaic period of Greek Art. These statues were reminders of great Greek men and women who lived and died a popular figure. Most of these statues were stark reminders of those who died centuries ago and remain immortal through their artistic brilliance (Greeklandscapes, 2007).
During the Classical period the charismatic smile that dominated so many archaic sculptures was replaced by a solemn facial expression. Sculptures which depicted violent and passionate scenes betrayed no expression, for the Greeks, their nobles were next to God, and it was their enemies (the barbarians) who were depicted with dramatic facial expressions (Greeklandscapes, 2007).
This bronze statue of Apollo from the archaic era shows the artistic talent of the early Greek sculptures. In this particular depiction, which many believe historians believe was made in the early 5th c. BCE?
Apollo is seen holding his bow in his left hand, and what looks like a gold libation bowl in his right hand. Unlike other archaic statues of the time, Apollo is seen here extending his arms way beyond his sides, and an extended right leg instead of the left. Apollo, like so many of his predecessors, was looked upon as God and given a special place in the history of Greek History. Known as the Sun God, Apollo is remembered for his association with law, philosophy, and the arts. He was considered the most ideal image of manly beauty. He was killed by Zeus using a thunderbolt, to save family peace (Apollo, 2002).
3.0 Spear Bearer
The forward shift of the energetic leg and backward thrust of the relaxed leg corrects the imbalance of the Omphalos Apollo. Since this implicates also a slight turn of the upper body, it achieves total contraposition. Technically the sculpture of the man known as Canon, though resembles a man walking, is quite the contrary. He has nothing to do with a walking. The Left heel is raised to signify a simple reflex caused by decisively sinking the body's weight on the opposite leg. This position exemplifies a position of one not walking, but lurching comically. The sculpture is an artist’s delight. Such is the mastery of the art that a close look at the sculpture shows each muscle of the arm and legs flex to balance the weight of the spear in the man’s hand. The body symmetry is such that the upper torso bends slightly to Photo of Doryphoros
the Right and forward in sympathy with the exhalation of the breath. The head is tilted to the right. While the general effect of the pose is to emphasize Right and Forward, implying consistently a harmony of activity, the turn of the head in that direction denotes its ownspecial kind of activity, which may be interpreted as alertness. The Greeks valued R and forward as noble and positive, auspicious; L and back as inferior and negative, unlucky. Thus in the most concrete, physical way imaginable, Canon embodies not only artistic harmony, but also exemplifies the moral/social qualities, as understood by the culture of that generation. The sculpture is a true measure of human beauty and time.
The figures from the archaic period Greek sculptures were very similar to each other. Each figure seen during the period 470-430 BC reflected the artistic marvel and importance to this form of art. The sculptures were true living representations of the lifestyle and culture enjoyed by the prominent people of that age, and is truly pointillist in nature. Greeks were peace-loving and sportive. Athleticism was pronounced with Greek sculptures, and most of them depicted heroes and Gods.