Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Unit 3 - DVD - Imperial Stone-The Art of Rome. Reading - Chapter 5 - Hellenistic and Roman Art

Summary of my notes on the DVD and reading...

Roman Empire was huge - encompasing lots of Europe, Aisia and North Africa.  Prior to all this conquering Romans 'condemed luxury and conspicous expense' (p179) - Soldiers brought back goodies leading to love of these elaborate items etc.  Pliny the Eldser says "more harm done to the Romans that the defeated Hellensitic kingdoms as they learned to love oppulance" (p179)

Romans passed on the visual arts of Greece to the Western world.  Rise of portraiture, painting styles, changes to architecture.  But copied loads in the visual arts so has been suggested didn't really have their own style

Architecture
Innovations of Roman architecture changed way buildings could be made.  Although both concrete and arch and vault sytem had been used before was extended and perfected.  New type of sand used in the concrete meant it dried more slowly and set more firmly - brill!

Went from post and lintel system which was limited to space of the weight that could be borne ON TO vast arches and domes with huge interior spaces never seen before.

The Colleseum - functional ampithetre.  'rhythmic horizontal and vertical repitition' (p191.  Columns follow ascending sequence doric-ionic-corinthiun for purely asthetic reasons. 

The Pantheon - temple and later Christian church.  Making amazing use of arch and vaults.  Biggest dome for 18 centuries! 

Classical temple porch leading to rotunda. 

Sculpture
Most Roman sculpture copies or adaptations of Greek sculptures.
Some copies pretty shoddy - wrong materials, scale etc
Portait heads rather than idealised - put portrait heads on stock bodies.  Had bodies modelled on Greek ideal in diff sizes and materials with slots for portrait heads to be added!
Statue of Augustus - used body of Doryphous (anonymous Greek athlete) stuck on Augustus head, changed position of arm and put on a Roman costume!
Commemorative columns - a Roman invention - column with statue at top e.g. Nelson's column

Painting
Mostly as decorations in homes.  Lots of Trompe l'oeil found in Pompeii. 
Earliest still lifes.  Move on to landscapes and learnt how to use perspective.
By 79AD all genres of paintings being done and brought
  • history
  • figure
  • portraits
  • landscape
  • still life
Also different styles used from "hard lineraty with flat areas of colour" to "impressionistic rendering of form with rapid flicks of the brush" P184

Portraits
Prob biggest development from Greek - the use of realistic portraiture.  'warts and all' style. 
Portrait bust developed - prior to this either full length or just the head.  Busts of emperors used like religious icons - made and put in public places around empire, citizens had to burn insence and praise them or get perscuted!

Visual Propaganda
Busts/images of rulers using realistic heads but idealised bodies.  Used imagery and scale to show importance of the leaders.
Triumphial Arches - 1/2 sculpture 1/2 architecture.  Free standing and purley ornamental.  Carvings were to display visual propaganda about how great they were.

Lettering
Clear and simple lettering used (and the spaces) conforming to laws of architectural structure.  'most influential and lasting contribution to the arts' never been excelled and remains basis of our lettering today P205

Debates on Visual Arts
Plato - works of art should conform to a standard - no innovations (like Egyptian art).  "All imitations are false and morally harmfull" P171
Socrates - Artists should concentrate on the good and the beautiful
Aristotle - objects should be different dependant on what they are made of, who makes them and why they are made. "Imitation is in itself pleasurable to look at.  Things that repel may please when represented in art" P171
  • Opens way for expressiveness and individuality
  • leads to statues, paintings, temples being seen as 'works of art'
  • leads to art-collecting, promotion of artists and first art histories
Status of Art/Artists
1st C BC private collectors start to pay a lot for Classical and Hellenistic originals.  Someone paid 36,000 Denarii for a piece (a slave cost 500 and average labourer salary of 250 a year!!!)
Demand for copies rose and distinction between original and copy made for first time.

BUT painters, sculpters etc regarded as lowly artisians.  BUT architects held in higher esteem

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