Greek Sculpture

Greek Sculpture

Greek Sculpture

Greek Sculpture

Excerpt

Our link with Classical Greece is so close that whatever we write on the subject tends to assume the form of a personal declaration of faith. Our response to Greek art -- and, in particular, to Greek sculpture -- is, if anything, even greater than our response to the epics of Homer, the Attic tragedies or the philosophy of Plato. For Greek sculpture is the visible and, one might say, the living testimony to the greatness of Greece. It would, however, remain a closed book without scholarly historical research, like everything belonging to the past. Yet the meaning of Greek sculpture far transcends its importance as an historical document. The truth of this -- which the Renaissance later adopted as its guiding star -- was first recognized during Late Antiquity. The art which the ancient Romans admired and which had a vital formative influence on the artists of Europe from the 15th century onwards, was to become the sole subject worthy of study for Winckelmann and his contemporaries and, in more recent times, to inspire poets of the stature of Rilke. This powerful influence is due above all to the profound humanity of the Greeks, which is nowhere more manifest than in the dominant place held in Greek sculpture by the human figure. Outlasting two thousand years, these works of art have remained a life-giving source for Western art, and beyond that, a generally accepted measure of human values. Whoever approaches Greek sculpture, be he a layman or a scholar, be he in search of enjoyment or of historical facts, will become aware of its decisive influence, but he must consider at the same time the far-reaching importance of the image of man it has created.

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