Art History for Kids

Archive for the ‘Greek Art’ Category

As we move away from Egyptian hieroglyphics to Greek mural paintings, we can see that instead of painting scenes of the after life, the Greek preferred to paint scenes of interesting or exciting scenes from their lives. The art no longer is about controlling reality but rather celebrating and sharing special or exciting moments.

Mural Paintings

Like the hieroglyphics originally painted on the internal walls of the Egyptain pyramids, the Greek kings demanded that paintings be made on the internal walls of their palaces where they lived. The Bull-Leaping Toreador Fresco was painted at the palace at Knosses in 1450-1400 BC. It was painted with the wet-fresco technique and very quickly because it dried so fast.

Here is another fresco from the West House of Akrotiri in Thera 1650 BC, it is 53″ high and depicts a young fisherman with his catch. Yet, another scene celebrating the every day occurences in life.

Minoan Pottery

The Minoan culture was also equally fascinated by nature and due to their proximity to the ocean, often depicted sea creatures like this Octopus jar from Palaikastro in 1500 BC. This particular vase is very interesting in the progress of art because it shows how flat drawings go from being two dimensional like the hieroglyphics to have more of a three dimensional and interactive or expanding quality.

Mycenaen Art

As we look at the connections between Egyptian and Greek art, let’s take a look at this funerary mask from Mycenae in 1600-1500 BC made of beaten gold. Does it remind you of a certain Pharoah, Tutenkhamen, who also had a mask of gold?

The Greek Geometric Period

Like the Egyptians, who held an incredible love of precision with regard to their hieroglyphic art, early Greek artists also explored Geometric Art on ceramic pots. For example, this Attic Geometric krater from the Dipylon cemetery in Athens was made in 740 BC and is extremely fascinating when you take a very close look at the patterns and shapes that surround the figures. Notice the straight lines that the figures stand upon, so similar to the hieroglyphic writings.

Greek Architecture

Over time, the Greeks took their fascination with geometry and lines from walls to ceramics to buildings. They expanded upon the concepts of Egyptian pyramids to create temples for their gods that had pointed roofs like the pyramids but also had columns like the internal structure of the pyramids and palaces. These two types of architectural design were called Doric and Ionic Orders. Just a fancy way of explaining what parts went where and why.

Greek Mythology

Like past cultures, religion and the gods played a very important part in the Greek’s lives, art and stories. The Greeks believed that their gods lived on top of a very big mountain called Mount Olympus. Zeus was the father and Hera was the mother. Athena was smart and Artemis was a hunter. Apollo was the god of the sun while his brother Neptune was the god of the sea.

In these stories, the Greek gods created many mythical and magical creatures. One story tells of the minotaur, a creature that was half man and half bull, who lived in a maze and hurt anyone that went in there. While another story told of pegasus, a winged horse, that was created specially for Hercules to help him fight battles. The Greeks loved their stories and told them in art, and through word and in plays!

Today’s Lesson

Today, we are going to pretend to be Greek gods and goddesses. We will paint our own mythical creatures to put in the world and wreak havoc or help mankind. You can choose if your creature is good or bad. It can be part man or part bull, part horse or part hawk, part octopus or part lion. It’s your choice. So, let’s get out our paints and have some fun!


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