Greek Wase Painting

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

Downloaded 1128 times

Greek Vase Painting The main goal of this assignment is to describe, analyze, and compare two paintings. These paintings are from the two different pieces of ancient Greek pottery. They are 2-dimensional representations of the same scene described in Greek mythology, both from the same artistic tradition. Both works were produced in the same medium (though using a slightly different technique), and at approximately the same period of Greek Art. These paintings are created by two different artists and provide different answers to similar challenges "" decorating a ceramic vessel, illustrating a story, creating a satisfying composition within the available space.

The two works of Greek Art are: Amphora "" a storage vessel decorated in the Attic Black-Figure technique by painter Exekias in 550 B.C. and Interior of the very large kylix "" a shallow drinking cup decorated in Attic Red-Figure technique by Penthesileia painter in 475-450 B.C. Both of these works show the scene of the Greek hero Achilles killing the Amazon queen, Penthesileia.

The main difference between these two paintings is the technique in which they were painted. In the Black-Figure technique image was created by applying the black glaze over the red surface of the vase, unlike the Red-Figure technique in which the image was produced by applying the black glaze over the entire vase, leaving the vegetal color of the pot uncovered in those areas which would receive the composition, which is nothing but the reversal of the black figure style. Because of the production method these two paintings create different visual effects. The first one, the Exekias painting has a limited color range, no linear perspective, no facial expressions "" and yet it is very interesting and expressive. The possibilities for expression in the black figure style were limited because it is very hard to show the small details on the image, drawn using one black glaze. However, Exekias attains a perfection which almost surpasses the possible limits of expression in this technique.

The human figures on the Exekias black figure amphora are rigid, angular and strictly two dimensional. They are depicted in full profile, with a frontal chest and profile legs. The head of the Achilles is turned, but there are no signs of the twisting of the body or neck. The musculature of Achilles is depicted by basic curved lines incised into the black slip. This gives a carved, stone-like effect, lacking in naturalism. Both figures on the painting are depicted clothed in flat, straight-edged garments. Penthesileia wears the long, shapeless dress, painted over with a dotted pattern. The edges are straight lines, and no hint of the shape of the female form showed. The eyes of the queen are depicted as dotted circles, as if the figure is frontal. Both faces are expressionless. Even though there is a lot of space left on the vase, painter chose not to use it to show other characters, unlike the other painting, in which the space use is optimized to show as many different characters as possible to fully represent the scene.

The red figure kylix by Penthesileia painter looks fairly natural. It is obvious how painter concentrated on different aspects of the human form, such as the delicate, graceful side, the restless energy of people, or the drama that could be portrayed through them. Proportions improved greatly and figures are very naturalistic compared to the first painting. Figures show the full range of frontal, profile and three quarter poses. All human are natural, innovative and artistically as well as physically balanced. Figures of Achilles and Penthesileia showed through transparent items of clothing with wavy edges and folds rather than sharp edged. Faces of the characters have some degree of expression, which greatly dramatizes and characterizes the moment of killing. Each painting represents the same moment of struggle, however, in the first painting Achilles uses the spear, and in the second painting he uses the big knife to kill Penthesileia, who is shown falling on one knee and trying to defend herself with her spear.

The differences described in last two paragraphs suggest that the red figure style is far more advanced compared to the black figure style, it has more colors, the space is used very well, and the scene itself looks more realistic.