The Art of Crete and Early Greece: The Prelude to Greek Art

The Art of Crete and Early Greece: The Prelude to Greek Art

The Art of Crete and Early Greece: The Prelude to Greek Art

The Art of Crete and Early Greece: The Prelude to Greek Art

Excerpt

As one climbs the Acropolis in Athens one's eye is at once caught by the little marble Temple of Athena Nike, which stands before the Propylaea. If one makes a detour for a few yards to the right, and stands on the bastion that supports this jewel of Greek architecture, one may enjoy a splendid view over Attica and the Saronic Gulf ( Gulf of Aegina). On returning to his main path the visitor finds himself confronted by a curious and contradictory scene. Before him rises the western facade of the Parthenon, with the blue sky in the background, which dominates the entire Acropolis and the surrounding countryside. To the left the view is obscured by the marble south wall of the Propylaea, which abuts upon some masonry, consisting of crudely hewn blocks of limestone. Behind are the cliffs of the Acropolis, rising up to the Parthenon above. This juxtaposition of natural beauty and formal classicism is somewhat disconcerting. Most visitors pass by unseeing, all too keen to reach the classical splendour of the Acropolis. Yet this contrasting picture contains something that is fundamental to an understanding of Greek art. It links together in a single unity primitive beginnings and the peak of perfection. It illustrates the complexity of the problems that face us in the study of Greek classicism, the very foundation of Western art.

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