Cover image for Archaic and classical Greek art
Archaic and classical Greek art
Osborne, Robin, 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
vii, 270 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 25 cm.
Geographic Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N5630 .O83 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This fascinating new account of what happened in Greece from c.800 to 323 bc shows how sculptors and painters responded to the challenges they faced in the extremely formidable and ambitious world of the Greek city-state. The numerous symbols and images employed by their eastern Mediterraneanneighbours on the one hand, and the explorations of what it was to be human embodied in the narratives with which Greek poets worked on the other, helped produce the rich diversity of forms apparent in Greek art. The drawings and sculptures of this period referred so intimately to the human form asto lead both ancient and modern theorists to talk in terms of the 'mimetic' role of art. The importance of what occurred still affects the way we see today. Ranging widely over the fields of sculpture, vase painting and the minor arts, this book provides a clear introduction to the art of archaic and classical Greece. By looking closely at the context in which and for which sculptures and paintings were produced, Robin Osborne demonstrates how artisticdevelopments were both a product of, and contributed to, the intensely competitive life of the Greek city. 'brilliantly illustrates the purpose of this new series by focusing on the social and political context of Greek art . . . a different approach suggesting new perspectives and original connections . . . eye-opening and thought-provoking' Professor Francois Lissarrague, Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris 'brings all that is best in the 'new' Classical art history to this exciting interpretation . . . No reader of Osborne's stimulating and engaging book will come away with their vision of Greek art unchanged' Jeremy Tanner, Institute of Archaeology, University of London

Author Notes

Robin Osborne is a Professor of Ancient History in the University of Oxford and Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi College.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Traditionally, art books follow a chronological sequence that tracks developing styles in a particular period of art. When influences are mentioned, it is usually in the context of which artist influenced which. Yet just as art does not exist in a vacuum, neither does the artist, and the artist's relationship to his customer's needs and the changing demands of the marketplace are central. Osborne (ancient history, Oxford) breaks with tradition to study simultaneously the art of ancient Greece and the world in which it was produced. Artists working in the Greek city-states were inspired by trade goods from throughout the Mediterranean as well as by their rich literary tradition. Osborne discusses the development of art forms and art's role in defining humankind's relationship with itself, others, nature, and the gods. Roman art is usually thought of as beginning during the early republic and continuing through the third century A.D. to the reign of Constantine, the first Christian emperor. Elsner, a lecturer at the Courtauld Institute, takes a slightly different tack, combining the art of the late Roman Empire with that of the early Christian period. Rather than merely cataloging artifacts, Elsner, like Osborne, studies "how art both reflected and contributed to the social construction." These two entries in the "Oxford History of Art" series are, as usual, good, solid introductions to their topics. With a reasonable price, compact format, good maps and time lines, and uniformly clear illustrations, they will be standard texts for their subjects. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.¬ĎMary Morgan Smith, Northland P. L., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 A History of Art Without Artists
The lost history of Greek art
The history of art at work
The status of art in classical Athens
Art and private life
Chapter 2 From Praying to Playing: Art in the Eighth Century BC
Modelling horses
Modelling men
The figure as a decorative element
Stories and statements
Chapter 3 Reflections in an Eastern Mirror
A fabulous invasion
Heads, bodies, and gods
Chapter 4 Myth as Measure
Myth and pathos: The Mykonos pithos
See myth and die: the Polyphemos amphora
Myth and ritual: the Hyperborean maidens
A revolution effected
Chapter 5 Life Enlarged
The art of revelation
Revealing gods, reviewing men, offering women
Chapter 6 Marketing an Image
Transforming a formula
The creation of the contemplative viewer
Colourful dramas outside Athens
Pot shapes
Chapter 7 Enter Politics
Politics enters the sanctuary
Death, politics, and the gymnasium
Chapter 8 Gay Abandon
Role-play and the body at the symposion
The invention of the red-figure technique
Bodies and flesh
Games with names
Virtuoso exhibits
The isolated image
Sex, drink, and the gods
Chapter 9 Cult, Politics, and Imperialism
From dissent to totalitarianism
Sexuality and the standing male
The body of private imagery
Opening the body's story
Closing the body's story
The violence of representation
Chapter 10 The Claims of the Dead
Grave offerings
Putting the dead body in its place
Art and the afterlife
Chapter 11 Individuals Within and Without the City
Breaking the classical mould
Facing suffering
Life stories
Portraits and power
Chapter 12 The Sensation of Art
Body language
The sensational artist
Chapter 13 Looking. Backwards
The agenda of revolution
The power of the Greek image
List of Illustrations
Bibliographic Essay