Greek Art 101


Greek Art 101

Greek art and architecture are the basis for much of what has followed in Western Civilization.  Here is just a small checklist of style characteristics, names and timing that can put some of your traveling experiences into context.


Greek sculptural styles begin rigid (almost modern looking to us) and evolved into writhing studies of fabric and physique over the span of roughly 800 years.


  • Archaic (750 to 500 BC) statues called Kouros (male) or Kore (female) are stiff-standing and realistic but not very lifelike.

  • Classical (450 to 330 BC) statuary is balanced with the idealized body attempting to express the human spirit in accurate and intricately draped poses.

  • Hellenistic (330 BC to 1st Century AD) statuary is full of movement and emotion.

 Greek pottery styles progressed in a similar way.


  • Archaic pottery used lots of Geometric decoration and humans were represented with triangular shoulders and stick arms.  Island cultures used sea motifs.

  • Classical pottery developed the height of style with black figures (scratched off silhouetted humans) and later the red figures (painted on, more detailed).

  • Hellenistic pottery forms continued to develop and refine using more color.  (Baby blue and peach are only used for today’s tourists!)


Greek Temple styles known as the “Three Orders” of Architecture


  • Doric uses capitols with simple square tops sitting on the fluted column.

  • Ionic uses capitols that are scrolled on either side.

  • Corinthian uses capitols that are decorated with the Acanthus leaf.

Columns came to be fluted to imitate the way wood columns were gouged when removing their bark.

Private Guides: See Greece and learn about its history with a private guide.




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