Artwork can tell us a lot about how people before us lived. It is important for us to study and learn from past civilizations. It is absolutely amazing to see how different each civilization is, but also on the same hand, how similar they can be. I believe each civilization took what they had and tried to develop a better and stronger civilization than the one before. This can be shown in their laws and rules, their architecture, their religious beliefs, and their artwork.
Doryphoros or Spear-Bearer was sculpted during the Classical Greece civilization. It was made around 440 B.C.E. by Polykleitos. Originally it was made in bronze, but now the only copy that remains is a marble Roman copy (Benton & DiYanni, 2008). This piece expresses that in Classical Greece they were very strict as far as the dimensions of sculpting the human figure, but they were more relaxed in the way the person was posing. They used what is called a contrapposto pose, which means the body is not stiff and standing straight up. The body is in more of an “S” shape with one foot in front of the other to show that the weight is only on one leg.
Also, much attention is paid to the dimensions of the body to make sure the proportions are correct. The statues almost show movement with the way they are positioned, especially when compared to earlier civilizations. The Spear-Bearer is one of the first sculptures to show the more naturalistic form of the human body. There were standards to follow as to the dimensions that should be used and many sculptures after used the same standards or standards derived from them.
The culture influenced the art because they wanted to show the admiration of the human figure. They wanted to show their culture in a beautiful, strong and yet simple way. They showed attention to detail and took pride in their sculptures. I think this showed not only how passionate they were about art, but also how passionate they were as a people.
There was definitely more emotion and drama in the artwork of Hellenistic Greece. The sculpture, Laocoon and His Sons is a very vivid example of this. We are not sure of the exact date the sculpture was made, but it was discovered in Rome in 1506 and was said to be made by Hagesandros, Anthandoros, and Polydoros of Rhodes. It depicts Laocoon and his sons being strangled by snakes. This is said to be because Laocoon had angered Apollo warning the Trojans against the Greeks (Benton & DiYanni, 2008).
This artwork expresses the enthusiasm of this civilization during this time period. Their artwork was vibrant and full of energy. Whether it is joy and happiness, or pain and agony that were being depicted, the scenes showed a very descriptive account of the lives and beliefs of the people during the Hellenistic period.
The relationship between the art and the culture is that it shows how much of an emphasis they put on drama. They focused more on emotions of individuals instead of balance and proportions as in Classical Greece. The artwork reflects the feel of the culture at that time because it shows the freedom the artists now had with their art. They were not bound by such strict rules and guidelines as before. This goes along with how Alexander the Great was now ruling. Limits were being pushed and self expression was encouraged.
It is said that there is not much known of the Etruscan civilization, but one magnificent entity that remains is the Tomb of the Reliefs. This was a huge rectangular room made of tufa, a soft stone that hardens when exposed to air (Benton & DiYanni, 2008). These huge rooms were made so that families could be buried together. The artwork expresses the closeness of the family at that time, and the attention to detail. The tombs were decorated to look like peoples homes down to pillows carved out of stone on the beds. On the walls were pictures of everyday items used in the Etruscan civilization.
The art shows that the culture was one based on happiness and optimism, a very close culture that wanted to same comforts of home to continue with them in the afterlife. It also shows gender equality since men and woman were buried together as a family instead of in separate tombs.
During the Roman Republic, artwork was very realistic. Sculptures and paintings were not made to be interpreted. They were made to show a specific person, event or place. The bust of Julius Caesar is an excellent example of this. Julius Caesar ruled over Rome as a dictator from 48 B.C.E. until his assassination in 45 B.C.E. The sculpture is strikingly realistic and you can see every crevice and line in his face (Benton & DiYanni, 2008).
I believe this artwork reveals a sense of seriousness in the culture. They did not want to leave much to the imagination and wanted to depict things exactly as they were. Even though they resembled the artwork of the Greeks, they also had very different ideas of what was important to them. The relationship between the art and the culture was that they wanted to show their leaders and politicians, not so much gods or goddesses.
This type of art influenced the civilization because it put a great emphasis on them as a people. They revered those in power and wanted them to be remembered always. They found it a matter of respect to make busts of their loved ones who had passed and to put as much detail as possible into them.
The Roman Empire was a strong, courageous and vibrant empire. One of their greatest architectural accomplishments was the Flavian Colosseum in Rome (Benton & DiYanni, 2008). This was an amphitheater built for the entertainment of the Romans. It represents the vibrancy of the culture. Even though we consider their battles to be barbaric and cruel, this was what was done back then. They were passionate people, full of life and energy and this is shown through the excellent engineering of the Colosseum and also in the activities that took place within.
I believe the influence of the art and the culture went hand in hand. It not only showed the intelligence of the Romans as a civilization, but also showed the great emphasis on not just living to survive. They were a people of movement and energy.