Architecture and the Greeks:
A Contextual Analysis of Architectural Sculpture in the Archaic and Classical Periods of Ancient Greece
Before Picasso’s Three Musicians or Rembrandt’s self portraits or Van Gogh’s Pavement Café at Night, art existed in another form. This form was so basic and concise that few people acknowledged that it was art- architecture. Dating back to the Paleolithic period, 40,000 BCE, architecture has been around serving a dual purpose of shelter and art. The post and lintel system of construction serves as a blueprint for many structures. Throughout the years, architecture has remained a key component of ancient art. Different societies have transformed and adapted the concept to reflect their cultures. Some of the most prominent users of architecture were the Egyptians. The temples and pyramids such as the Temples of Rameses II are prime examples Egyptian architecture. The Greeks also used architecture as a means of creating great works of art. But in contrast to the Egyptians, Greek architecture places importance of the sculptural decoration. One of the first examples of Greek architectural sculpture can be seen in the west pediment of the Temple of Artemis. Its origin is c.600-580 BCE apart of the Archaic period c.600-480 BCE of ancient Greece. This effect was created by first carving the sculpture on separate slabs and then installing them in the pediment space. A detailed sculpture (Fig. 1) features Gorgon Medusa at the center of the pediment. A common characteristic of Archaic temple structure was changes in scale and strange positioning. The west pediment of the Temple of Artemis also features Medusa’s children Pegasus and Chrysaor, crouching animals and dying warriors, arrangement symmetrically on both sides of Medusa aligning with the slope of the pediment. . Gorgons were three monsters, one of whom, Medusa was a mortal. They had the body of a woman, a terrifying head crowned with serpents for...
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