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Classicism and Totalitarian Art Misuse of classical Art by totalitarian systems

I was surprised by paintings of Salvador Dali showing the Pharos of Alexandria (2 versions), the Colossus of Rhodes and the colossal Zeus statue of Phidias. But also the Aphrodite of Cnidus or Melos or the wounded Amazon and the Nike of Samothrace can be found in some of his paintings. Sometimes hidden elements of Greek history and mythology exist in his paintings. In his last painting he symbolized, using Aphrodite, his expected death.

Salvador Dali's Greek Elements

A modern version obviously of the goddess Athena (Sir Anthony Caro)

Greek Gods and heroes in Rubens' and Rembrandt's age A short report from Spiros Tzelepis

It is clear that we are witnessing the death throes of the cultural system maintained by the bourgeoisie in its galleries and its museums, Jean Clay

The Roots of Modernism and the End of Art

Plato and Arts

Poesis in Plato's Republic, Jan Johnston

Greece Today

Modern Greek Art


Who where the two artists of ancient times who competed to see who could paint the visible world most faithfully? “Now I shall prove to you that I am the best,” said the first, showing the other a curtain which he had painted. “Well, draw back the curtain,” said the adversary, “and let us see the picture.” “The curtain is the picture,” replied the first with a laugh.
During this entire voyage of mine on the Aegean I had sensed with profundity that the curtain is truly the picture. Alas for him who tips the curtain in order to see the picture. He will see nothing but chaos.
I remained plunged in solitude’s austere silence for many additional days. It was spring; I sat beneath the blossoming lemon tree in the courtyard, joyfully turning over in my mind a poem I had heard at Mount Athos: “Sister Almond Tree, speak to me of God.” And the almond tree blossomed.
Truly, the curtain embroidered with blossoms, birds, and men - this must be God. This world is not His vestment, as I once believed; it is God himself. Form and essence are identical. Nikos Kazantzakis describing the story of the competition between the painters Zeuxis and Parrhasius. Zeuxis painted some grapes, that looked so real that they attracted birds to eat them. Zeuxis asked Parrhasius to pull away the curtain and show his painting, but it turned out that the curtain was actually painted. Zeuxis said: I've deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.

Parrhasius wrote that he is such a good artist that he has set the limits of Arts so high that others will almost impossible reach. There are many stories of Parrhasisus some probably wrong. For example Seneca wrote that Parrhasius used a slave he obtained from Philip II after he destroyed Olynthus and sold the Olynthians as slaves. Parrhasius tortured the slave because he wanted to produce a realistic image of Prometheus punished by Zeus. The slave died. The painting was set in a temple of Athena. There are some doubts about this story as probably Parrhasius died earlier than the destruction of Olynthus.

The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in others times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was.
Picasso 1923

The more horrifying this world becomes, the more art becomes abstract.
Paul Klee (1879-1940)

ERNEST. You are horribly wilful. I insist on your discussing this matter with me. You have said that the Greeks were a nation of art-critics. What art-criticism have they left us?

GILBERT. My dear Ernest, even if not a single fragment of art-criticism had come down to us from Hellenic or Hellenistic days, it would be none the less true that the Greeks were a nation of art-critics, and that they invented the criticism of art just as they invented the criticism of everything else. For, after all, what is our primary debt to the Greeks? Simply the critical spirit. And, this spirit, which they exercised on questions of religion and science, of ethics and metaphysics, of politics and education, they exercised on questions of art also, and, indeed, of the two supreme and highest arts, they have left us the most flawless system of criticism that the world has ever seen.

ERNEST. But what are the two supreme and highest arts?

GILBERT. Life and Literature, life and the perfect expression of life. The principles of the former, as laid down by the Greeks, we may not realise in an age so marred by false ideals as our own.... Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

In 4 June 470 BC Phaenarete, the wife of an Athenian sculptor, gave birth to her son Socrates... After spending several years in his father's workshop, he decided that his mission in life was not to be a sculptor of figures, but a moulder of souls. (See the discussion of Socrates with the Painter Parrhasius)

See also

List of ancient Greek sculptors

List of ancient Greek painters

Deborah Tarn Steiner , Images in Mind: Statues in Archaic and Classical Greek Literature and Thought - Princeton University Press
Nikolaos Kaltsas, Sculpture in the National Archaeological Museum Athens- , J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003, ISBN: 0892366869
John G. Pedley , The Archaeology of Ancient Greece- ,Prentice Hall; 2002, ISBN: 0130981117
John Boardman, Greek Sculpture: The Archaic Period (World of Art)- John Boardman ( June 1985)
Stelios Lydakis, Ancient Greek Painting and Its Echoes in Later Art-, 304 pages (June 2004) Publisher: Getty Publishing ISBN: 0892366834
E.H. Gombrich , The Heritage of Apelles-, Phaidon Press (January 1, 1994) ISBN: 0714820113

Parts : 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 -

Ancient Greece

Science, Technology , Medicine , Warfare, , Biographies , Life , Cities/Places/Maps , Arts , Literature , Philosophy ,Olympics, Mythology , History , Images

Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire

Science, Technology, Arts, , Warfare , Literature, Biographies, Icons, History

Modern Greece

Cities, Islands, Regions, Fauna/Flora ,Biographies , History , Warfare, Science/Technology, Literature, Music , Arts , Film/Actors , Sport , Fashion



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