The Greek Tradition in Sculpture

The Greek Tradition in Sculpture

The Greek Tradition in Sculpture

The Greek Tradition in Sculpture

Excerpt

No art was more popular in Greece than sculpture, and in none did the Greeks reveal their genius more completely and abidingly. During the six hundred years of its development the range of subjects treated and the variety of technical devices mastered were enormous, and those conceptions and techniques have been copied and adapted by the sculptors of many countries down to the present day. If the gods were represented, so were the most commonplace scenes from ordinary life; athletes and war heroes, statesmen and poets, were commemorated in stone and bronze; symbolic figures of cities were created; children and market women were given artistic immortality. Sculpture was used for a multitude of purposes. Nearly three-quarters of all the Greek stone buildings were decorated with it; it served to adorn private homes and to honor the dead on stelae and sarcophagi. The gamut was run of idealism, impressionism, romanticism and realism; Ionian grace, Dorian austerity and Hellenistic sensationalism were various aspects of the Greek genius in sculpture. It is not surprising that from such a wealth of material the sculptors of later times found stimulation for their minds and hands.

We may say, then, that sculpture was a popular art among the Greeks, a fact which in itself is significant; as W. C. Brownell has said, unless the many are called how shall the few be chosen? But this only begins to account for its greatness. Out of that great variety can we discover the special characteristics which have made its influence so potent?

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