Horse, Bird & Man: The Origins of Greek Paintings

Horse, Bird & Man: The Origins of Greek Paintings

Horse, Bird & Man: The Origins of Greek Paintings

Horse, Bird & Man: The Origins of Greek Paintings

Excerpt

Initially, this work was planned solely as a study of the earliest horse representations in Attic art, centering on an amphora of key importance in the Athens National Museum (see p. 37). That theme, however, soon required that a study of birds be added in order for the horse to be completely understood. Finally, it became evident that the human figure itself, coming in the wake of these, could not be exempted from close consideration. Indeed, these three categories had already been called indigenous Attic themes. Moreover, as this study progressed, I discovered that my conclusions were to a considerable extent in harmony with certain ideas put forward a quarter of a century ago by M. Pallottino. To be sure, since my starting point was quite different from his, I have found it desirable to confine myself to a much narrower scope of investigation, namely, to the above-mentioned, fundamental (earlier) aspects of figural Attic Geometric, leaving for the future consideration later Geometric and the problems in Archaic art he broaches. Yet, each of us has reached the absolutely critical conclusion that there is a tendency to underestimate the force of tradition operative throughout the whole post-Bronze Age (and thereby to differentiate too little between the phenomenon of 'abstract' and representational art on the Geometric scene); each of us has seen independently the same vision of a new approach to understanding the birth of Geometric figure style. I should not fail to point out Pallottino's circumspection in disassociating himself from theories which turn primarily on racial considerations. The decipherment of Linear B as Greek--removing the necessity for, and even the likelihood of, a radical change of racial stock to explain artistic changes--has confirmed his insight, as has also Desborough's demonstration that the principal artistic force in Protogeometric times was Attica, where a certain continuity of culture is attested by archaeology as well as by tradition. I believe that this continuity of culture made possible, at a certain point, a renewal of contact with Bronze Age artistic values in Attica . . .

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