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Art and Experience in Classical Greece First Edition Edition
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›