Body Art

How did Greek art portray the human body?

In Artistic terms of Greek, the idea of beauty is a concept that relied on a mix of sophisticated euphoria and purity which isn’t depicted as much as one would like in this modern era or isn’t as artistically pleasing.

Depiction of the human body in Greek art:

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Depiction of the human body was the favorite subject of Greeks. They usually portray the human body in their sculptures. In stone or wooden sculptures, there was a tendency towards nudity which is not true in any other civilization. According to Greeks, nudity is the beauty of humans.

It was the symbolization of a hero. To them, it wasn’t the matter of depiction of reality, but mythologies and purity in essence in the most realistic forms ever.

Realism:

Ancient Greeks portray the human body with perfection and life-like but in the Hellenistic period, Greek artists and sculptors started focusing on realism. The realism can be justified by the rigidity of the sculptures rather than the dimensions of the artwork. Hardened postures, rigid faces all pointing towards the asymmetrical sense of Greek art.

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Realism also included blush on the cheeks and color to the eyes. The bodies are represented as living creatures rather than statues, one can tell by the attention to detail, from the range of emotions to the asymmetrical posture. Agony, exhaustion, satisfaction, euphoria, sadness, curiosity, and many other emotions to the way their fingers are relaxed, arms that hang at a statue’s sides slightly bent and not extended.

The core and hips are tilted, and the weight is put on one leg like actual humans. All of these details were present in the realism art of the human body. Greek art’s portrayal of the human body is in an idealized and aesthetic manner but captivating nonetheless.

Depiction of the body through sculptures and paintings mainly focused on physicality including strength and beauty and emphasized on warrior’s muscles and woman’s facial features. Many sculptures of gods and goddesses portrayed them as tall, mighty, and beautiful.

Greek artists idealized reality. They perfected the world’s flaws. They did want to portray a human being with precision and perfection. But some Hellenistic sculptures also portrayed the human with harsh reality which includes age, un-idealized features, and injuries.

They wanted their bodies to standardize the ideal human body, not the ones full of “flaws”. One could even call it a medieval form of body shaming.

Well, getting to nudity, Greek art is not about sexual arousal. Instead, nudity is about humanism. Greeks believed and saw humans as the creatures who are grand in every possible way, creatures capable of unlimited discovery and creatures full of skills of every manner.

Humanity was the epitome of creation. The human achievement was everything present in their art. Perfect human bodies in all their glory, like a celebration for perfection. To the Greeks, it was a sign of pride. In the name of humanism, realism and idealism were combined in sculpture.

Examples:

There are many famous sculptures and paintings of Greek art which include Myron’s discus thrower, Artemis (the huntress), Venus de milo, etc. In all of these sculptures and paintings, the human body is in a naked form.

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