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Art and Experience in Classical Greece First Edition Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521096621
ISBN-10: 0521096626
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

"delightful, readable, and scholarly. The volume is profusely and well illustrated, each art example is clearly labelled and dated, and superb supplementary references for illustrations and supplementary suggestions for further reading are added to complete the study." Choice
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (March 10, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521096626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521096621
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
J.J. Pollitt is one of the most respected scholars of ancient Greek art, and with good reason. His analyses are clear, well-written, cautious, and highly logical. Art and Experience is a classic (!) work of Pollitt's early career. It is an authoritative and engaging introduction to the history of art in ancient Greece, focusing on the Classical period (fifth and fourth centuries BC). The book assumes a general familiarity with some ancient history, philosophy, and literature, so it might be most useful for students or enthusiasts of classical culture who feel that their understanding of classical art is lacking. Nonetheless, the text is introductory enough that even a reader with no background in classics could find the book interesting and informative.
What makes this book a particularly valuable introduction to Greek art is that it aims to explain the motives and ideas behind the art rather than to provide the reader with a list of works and names of styles. Pollitt answers the question of why Classical Greek art looks like it does, and he thus gives his reader a framework for understanding individual works.
I can level only two criticisms at the book, and they are both relatively picky. The first is that, because of the brevity of the book and its intended non-specialist audience, some of Pollitt's conclusions seem to me like logical leaps, and some of his arguments seem too summary to be fully convincing. I would have preferred a more comprehensive treatment with fuller explanations--something along the lines of Paul Zanker's Power of Images in the Age of Augustus. As an introduction, however, the extent of the arguments in Art and Experience is sufficient.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read (most of) this book almost thirty years ago as an undergraduate and it caused me to fall in love with the study of ancient Greek and Roman art. Revisiting it now as 46-year-old only reconfirms my initial impression of the excellence of J.J. Pollitt's "Art and Experience in Classical Greece."
As a young student with only a budding knowledge of Classical history, I was impressed with how convincingly Pollitt interwove contemporary ancient Greek (and Roman) literary evidence into his analysis of Archaic and Classical Greek sculpture, architecture, and painting. To me this really served to emphasize the "history" in the notion of "art history," and I was thrilled with the way Pollitt proceeded to make these ancient objects come alive and set them in their respective historical contexts.
Of course Pollitt is aided in this endeavor by the concurrent dawning of western letters in the 7th-4th century B.C. writings of Homer, Archilochus, Solon, Anaximander, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Plato, Aristotle, etc., as well as Roman-era writers such as Vitruvius, Pausanias, and Plutarch. Through these contemporary writings we know what was happening in mainland Greece and Ionia when monuments such as the temples of Aphaia on Aegina, Zeus at Olympia, Athena at Athens (Parthenon), Apollo at Bassae, Zeus at Nemea, or Apollo at Didyma were constructed. With the help of these literary sources Pollitt shows how historical circumstances of each age are manifested in ancient Greek art. The groping, rather schematic painted vases and bronze figurines of the Geometric period (900-700 B.C.) show an urge to impose an order of geometric shapes on the natural world as the Greeks emerge from the illiterate Dark Ages.
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Format: Paperback
Pollitt's book is one of those rare pieces of writing that rewards you with fresh insight each and every time you pick it up. It is beautifully and sensitively written, and manages to breathe remarkable life into the civilization of ancient Greece. This is a wonderful way to prepare for a trip to Greece--it will only make your travels even more rewarding. This is history at its best.
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Format: Paperback
Knowing little of Greek art, I happened upon this book in my shelves (an old college textbook belonging to my husband). I was pleased and impressed with this overview of Classical Greek art. Pollitt covers the main strands of development in architecture, sculpture, and painting and places the works firmly in the context of the historical events and cultural atmosphere of their times. As a result, I came away with an increased appreciation and understanding of the quality and value of Classical Greek art and of the interconnection between art and larger society in ancient Greece.
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