The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.
– James Arthur Baldwin
Art is a representation of the way humans view beauty. Some even believe that people know of beauty only because the artist shows it to them. Greece is the seat of modern human civilization. It is the place where cherished concepts like democracy came in to being. Greece has influenced human culture in a way few others have and its legacy lives on in the form or great works of writing, architecture and of course art.
Ancient Greek art developed very early and by the time Greece came to interact with other civilizations, schools of Greek art were very well established. Art in ancient Greece was usually centered on humanistic influences and usually depicted human figures or representations of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Scholars divide ancient Greek art into three different groups whose names are the same as the periods of history to which they belong. First among them is the Archaic, which ends around 450 B.C.E. with the Persian invasion. Next in line is the Classical Greek art period, which lasted until the demise of Alexander the Great in about 323 B.C.E. The last of these is the Hellenistic period that started after the fall of Alexander’s empire. These divisions are in no way conclusive; they are primarily aimed at creating a genre to which different art forms can be referred.
Painting demanded the greatest respect in ancient Greece. Unfortunately, nothing tangible of Greek painting survived in the modern ages. Paintings on the walls of tombs found in Italy and Macedonia and hand-painted pots are all that remain of this great Greek art form. A few forms of art that did survive are sculptures, coin and gem engravings and of course Greek architecture. However, even for these, only a minute fraction has made it to the hands of present generations. Most statues of marble were burnt or destroyed when Christians sought to cleanse Greece of paganism whereas those made in bronze were lost when cargo ships sank or melted when the bronze was needed. The architecture of the Greeks would inspire the greatest monuments of the world, but much of the source of this inspiration is lost forever. Four of the seven ancient wonders of the world the Statue of Zeus, the Temple of Artemis, the Colossus of Rhodes, and Alexandria’s Lighthouse were Greek monuments. The earth today, bears little sign of them or their greatness.