Greek Sculpture its Spirit and its Principles

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In the eighteenth century people were unable to judge of ancient art properly because they possessed few originals and were obliged to look through the spectacles of a later Roman civilization. The scientific nineteenth century probed deeper.


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The spade of the excavator brought long-forgotten treasures to light; scholars trained in the severe school of philology arranged and classified the material, and little or nothing was left to the art critic. All their books follow the historic development. They are histories of ancient artists.

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If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. Read FREE! Excerpt The study of Greek sculpture was unknown one hundred and fifty years ago.

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Thus, display practices have actually changed not only the extent to which ancient history is constructed, but also the degree of our knowledge about what ancient art really is By presenting three options for studying the Venus de Milo, Prettejohn also shows how that particular marble statue played a crucial role in the cultural and artistic debates of the modern era, and how quickly it became established as one of the most famous European antiquities 73— While these developments gave a new focus to the study of ancient sculpture, scholars also began to distinguish the distinct style of sculptors famed in ancient texts.

However, important questions arise: did an excessive regard for a false—or at least misleading—ideal of Greek sculpture act as an impediment to artistic freedom in the early twentieth century, as the artist and critic R.

Wilenski would argue in his violent attacks on ancient Greek art? In other words, how did such preferences guide the ways in which various artists presented a direct or indirect aesthetic perception, connection, and responsiveness to the past?

The book ends with the dramatic change to the picture of the development of Greek sculpture; earlier phases could finally be illustrated with better examples than fifth- and fourth-century classical monuments. In summary, The Modernity of Ancient Sculpture offers a thought-provoking look at the modernist transformation of the classical ideal and the extent to which the modernists failed to make ancient sculpture irrelevant. Its emphasis on the responses to ancient sculpture and how the intersection of ancient and modern stretches the boundaries of current thinking are enhanced by rich citation of the work of those writers Walter Pater, G.

Greek Sculpture its Spirit and its Principles (Temporis)

Hegel, George F. Watts, and T.

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Hulme among others who set new agendas and have worked at the frontiers of the subject. However, the range of issues and contexts related to the various ways in which Greek art was aesthetically valued and received by nineteenth- and early twentieth-century artists and writers cannot be exhausted within the limited space of a book.

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The extent to which the visual vocabulary associated with ancient sculpture intersects with and produces distinctive attitudes towards the early modern language of aesthetics could provide an important topic for further work. The design and layout of the volume are both satisfactory, although, in some instances, the dense language may be difficult for non-English-speaking readers.

That most of the images do not closely correspond with the text should be considered an inevitable fact of such a wide-ranging study. Apart from these issues, Prettejohn weaves together literary criticism, archaeology, art history, object biography and reception theory in an interdisciplinary approach to the study of ancient and modern art that overcomes previous conceptual barriers of increasing academic specialization.

Hegel’s Aesthetics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The result shows how the interpretation of Greek sculpture has been powerfully reinforced by modern artistic and textual receptions. As an iconographic study and an exploration of visual culture, this book fully engages with the fascinating historical link between the study of ancient art and the practice of modern art. Its scholarship is creative, the questions asked are original, and the evidence is interpreted in the light of the intriguing changes that objects from the past have undergone. The book should take its place not only as a valuable resource for anyone who works on the interaction and manifold interconnections between the study of Greek sculpture and the production of modern art, but also as a seminal study in Reception Studies, one that will re-orient the way in which we understand why the art of the past continues to have power for present-day observers.

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