The Dynamic from Conceptions to Experiences in Early Art and the Characterization of Greek Art in the Classical Era.

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The Venus of Willendorf is one of the earliest sculpted figures, dating from between 28,000 and 23,000 BC. She is a limestone sculpture, about four and three-eighths inches tall, and her distinguishing features are highly exaggerated: enlarged breasts and stomach, wide hips, and defined pubic area. However, she has no face (a person's most distinctive social identifier), which leads to the assumption that the sculpture was an idol extolling the sexual and reproductive functions of all females rather than a depiction of a particular woman. The generalization of specific details accompanies all art from prehistory until the time of ancient Greece (excepting, of course, Egypt's "Amarna" period which began at the end of the 18th Dynasty around 1,350 BC).

Another widely recognized object which also bears this conceptual view of reality is the Sumerian Standard of Ur (c. 2,700 BC). On either side of this object are three narrative bands depicting the Sumerian king, his army, and his subjects participating in various activities after a victory over an opposing army: soldiers presenting prisoners of war to their king, charioteers and foot soldiers marching, the king feasting with guests, and common people in procession bringing offerings to him.

Consistent throughout all six bands are the portrayal of the king as physically larger than everyone else and all figures, people and animals, are shown in a composite profile. The utilization of hierarchy of scale in the Standard of Ur (wherein the larger a person is shown, the greater his status) makes very clear who the most important and highest regarded person in the scenes is. Composite profile serves to make all the figures easily identifiable; with their profile legs, frontal torso, profile head, and frontal eye, all their distinguishing features are visible and easy to recognize.

The conceptual nature of art was...