Ancient Greek Pottery Kevin J. Benoy The Importance of Pottery Storage containers, cookware and dishes were as necessary for the Ancient Greeks as they are for us.
Without much glass and with metal expensive, clay was a very handy material. Clay
Clay is inexpensive and readily available. It is weathered rock that has crumbled to dust. Found in its original location, it is called primary clay. In the Mediterranean region, most clay has been deposited by glaciers and is known as secondary clay. The impurities in clay give it varying colours. For instance, red clay contains iron. Clay
It is easily worked and can be shaped as desired. Once fired it is quite strong and waterproof. It makes an ideal material for containers of all sorts.
Pottery Art Only men were allowed to make pots in Ancient Greece, though women were permitted to paint them. Pottery was frequently made by slaves. What survives is often not high art. Really valuable containers tended to be made of bronze, silver or gold. However, little of this survives because the metal was reused. Pottery fragments, having no real
value, survive. Pottery Art Despite it being a lesser form than metal-craft, some excellent creations exist. Greek pottery and painting evolved into a significant art
form. Form and Function Pots were shaped according to their function. Form & Function Large storage containers were
called amphora and are made with two carrying handles.. Form and Function Small storage boxes were called pyxis. Form and Function
Small vases for perfume or oil were called Alabastron. Form and Function Athletes kept their oil supply in small containers called Aryballos Form and Function
Hydria were used to carry water from wells, springs or rivers. Form and Function Kraters were bowls to mix water and wine in.
Form and Function This jug is called oinochoe. Form and Function Lekythos were used to store oil Periods and Styles
Pottery is one of the oldest surviving art forms from Ancient Greece. Works and fragments survive from the 2nd millennium BC to the end of the 1st century BC. Greek pottery was traded throughout the Mediterranean world and
beyond. Periods and Styles Minoan & Mycenaean Minoan & Mycenaean pottery is the oldest that we know of. It was exuberantly
decorated. It tends have as a trait horror vacui or fear of leaving open space. Periods and Styles Geometric The next style to pervade exhibits a
different sensibility. From the end of the 2nd millennium the geometric style dominates. Regular geometric patterns and shapes, not animal forms, are pervasive. Periods and Styles Orientalizing
Contact with Asia brought new innovation in design. The next stage is therefore known as the orientalizing period. Plants and animals reappear in the bands of design. Periods Periods and Styles Orientalizing
During the orientalizing period (roughly 725-650 BC) the black figure technique is employed in Corinth. In the 7th century BC, this spreads to Athens.
Periods and Styles Archaic The Archaic style existed from around 700 to 480 BC. Mythology and life became important subjects.
Some artists signed their work. Periods and Styles Black-Figure The Black-figure style really did not dominate until the 6th century BC.
Artists painted black images silhouetted against the natural red clay background. Details were inserted by etching the black figures. White or purple paint could then be added. Periods and Styles Red-Figure The red-figure style appeared between 530-525 BC.
It was achieved by simply reversing the manner of black figure painting. The red figures are reserved and the background is painted. This is more difficult but it allowed the design to be seen better at a distance and it
leaves the contour of the pot more visible. Periods and Styles Classical Interestingly, the classical period saw change, but not necessarily any improvement in technique. Some observers actually feel that things worsen as greater freedom brings less
balance. Some suggest that pottery artists were trying to outdo the painters of the day. However, this cannot be confirmed or denied, since no paintings have survived. Periods and Styles Classical White Ground One significant innovation is the painting of a large part of the pot with a
white background. This creates almost a canvas upon which the artist can easily work. The End By the end of the 5th century BC, pottery painting seems to lose its status as an art form. Some suggest that metal
bowls and vases were now favored by the rich. Outside Greece, local manufacturing continued, particularly in what is now Southern Italy. In the 3rd century BC, the painting of pottery before firing seems to end. Decoration was now separate from potting entirely.
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