Art is a very interesting subject that has evolved into many stages from early civilizations to the current generation. Artwork can be categorized into two major groups which are: Auditory art and visual art. Auditory art consists of all kinds of artworks that can be heard by the human ear. It includes art pieces such as songs, drama, and other spoken literature that can be recited. On the other hand, visual art consists of all artworks that can be seen by the human eye.
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Common examples of visual art include paintings, artistic drawings, and sculptures. Performance art is a very interesting form of art that can be auditory or visual and in some cases, it has a combination of both visual art and auditory art (Oakes, 2003). All the above-mentioned forms of art were different in early civilizations and this is the reason why this piece of work tries to analyze artworks in Hellenistic, Egyptian, and Roman Civilizations.
Let me start by describing arts during Hellenistic civilization. Hellenistic civilization is the period that followed the Classical period in Greece. Artwork during the Hellenistic period underwent many transformations following improvements on the steps that had been set by artists during the Classical period. During the Hellenistic period, artwork in Greece was transformed and evolved through many stages because most artists received formal training from experienced artists. During the period of Hellenistic Greece, art was used to express energy and power rather than greatness and power as it was in Classical Greece.
For example during Hellenistic civilization, there was a portrait of Nike of Samothrace that was put at the top part of a sanctuary (Smith, 2005). The sanctuary was located at the edge of a cliff. The location for the portrait was preferred because it was easier for many people to view the top of a cliff than if it was on plain land. There was a pool of water that was surrounded by rocks to form a beautiful landscape around the artwork.
Nike was a goddess who most people believed was very powerful and could solve most of their problems if not all. The sculpture of Nike was used in Greece to show the human presence of Nike. The twists and deep cuts that were present on the portrait of Nike conformed to the nude body that was contained underneath (Bothmer, 1996). These twists and cuts revealed that some physical human beings used to struggle with any unseen external forces that could attack society. This piece of art made the people in Greece live with the presence of Nike in their minds.
This was a sculpture that was made to show the image of Nike of Samothrace (Ryholt, 1997). The artists during the Hellenistic period used to express their views and ideas through artworks. The sculpture of Nike was made by artists who wanted the presence of the goddess Nike to be felt by every person in Greece.
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People who lived during Hellenistic civilization respected their leaders who were also viewed as spiritual leaders. They also believed in the supernatural powers of gods and goddesses and a sculpture of Nike is just one example of super-natural beings that people believed in during the Hellenistic period. The sculptures that were made during the Hellenistic period still have some influence on some Greeks who believe in spiritual beings such as goddesses that are represented by the sculptures. The sculptures and other forms of art are currently well preserved in museums across Greece.
Art during Egyptian civilization is also an important topic to talk about. Art in ancient Egypt was used to pass messages concerning religion, dynasties, kingdoms, and culture. Sculpture and painting were the two main forms of art that were used by artists during Egyptian civilizations. In the early years, Egyptians had well-organized administrative structures which were used to unite the people of Egypt.
This was evident by the presence of dynasties which later combined to form a very strong Kingdom. A kingdom was headed by Pharaoh. Pharaoh was the title given to a king in ancient Egypt (Oakes, 2003). The pharaoh was also a spiritual leader of Egyptians.
Artworks in ancient Egypt were not just done by people who chose to do art because they were creative but people who were well trained were the ones who formed teams to do artworks. The artisans were paid to do the artworks and therefore they were very committed to their work because they did not want to lose their jobs. This implied that poor workmanship was not tolerated and therefore a team of artisans was led by a master craftsman who could work on every branch of art. The work of a master craftsman was to offer guidance to his assistants while working (Smith, 2005). He also assessed the work that other artisans did but no individual was allowed to assess the contributions of a master craftsman.
Artworks in ancient Egypt served two main purposes. The first one was to give glory and honor to gods and pharaoh who was responsible for presiding over major religious ceremonies. The second major purpose was to preserve the values of life and also to facilitate the transition of human beings from life to death. Egyptians believed that there was life after death and it was evident from the kinds of artworks that were done on the tombs where the dead people were buried. Before I talk about artworks that were done on tombs, it is important to talk about the pharaohs because any literature about art concerning ancient Egypt cannot be complete without mentioning the symbolic pyramids and images of pharaohs.
The images of the pharaoh were well decorated using different colors which had specific meanings. The pharaoh was considered to be a supreme leader who had divine powers and therefore he was considered as important as the gods and goddesses.
The religion and culture of the Egyptians influenced how artworks were done because the images of pharaoh needed to be painted or sculptured as desired to represent a powerful ruler with his regalia near him to show full control of his territory. The regalia used by the pharaoh were made in a specific design to ensure that after the death of a pharaoh, the next pharaoh was to use regalia that was similar to those of earlier pharaohs.
The tombs where the pharaohs and their close assistants were buried used to be painted and various carvings were put in them. For example, when the king (pharaoh) Hasire died, he was buried in a tomb that contained the carvings of his regalia. The painting was done on the walls of the tomb showing the image of King Hasire, dressed in his full regalia holding a pen to depict a pharaoh in an office (Ryholt, 1997).
This was done because the Egyptians in ancient Egypt believed in life after death and that royal kings continued to live a royal life even after death. The artworks during Egyptian civilization continue to influence the current world of art because whenever the name of Egypt is mentioned in any part of the world by any artist, the image of a pharaoh or a pyramid is usually shown. In other words, the sculptures of pharaohs are currently associated with the powerful rulers of Egypt during Egyptian civilization.
Before I conclude this discussion, let me talk about the arts during Roman civilizations. Art in the ancient Roman Empire was a symbolic one because in every piece of artwork there was something specific that was represented. Due to this, artworks were done by people who underwent proper training in various fields of art to enable them to produce art pieces that were able to convey desired messages. Artists were trained on how to produce artworks that were similar to those of early legendary artists such as Polygnotos and Apollodoros who were very talented (Boardman, 1998). Artists during Roman civilization mainly came from areas that were colonies of Greece where they had learned some techniques of Greek arts.
Art in the Roman Republic was influenced by the arts that the Romans found in Greece. It was so because most artists had the knowledge of Greek arts and they only transformed the techniques they knew to suit the requirements of arts in the Roman Republic. The Romans used to worship their ancestors together with gods and goddesses. This made them develop portraits of their relatives to be seen by later generations that would be worshiping them.
The practice of worshiping ancestors influenced art during Roman civilization because people wanted sculptures of great rulers to be made so that generations that were to come could have a look at them. For example, a sculpture of Aulus Metellus was made of bronze wearing leather boots. Portraits of other rulers and goddesses were made barefoot (Boardman, 1998). This was to reveal that Aulus was a ruler who was so great and powerful that he was not supposed to walk barefoot.
The kind of artwork that was mostly done in the Roman Empire was painting which was majorly aimed at preserving the artifacts. The type of painting that was mostly used was known as the Pompeian mural paintings which were done in every area that was under the rule of the Roman Empire. This reveals that the rulers of the Roman Empire wanted their presence to be felt everywhere.
It also made the people in the Roman Empire view their rulers as very powerful people. The images of rulers during Roman civilization were put in the coins that were used in all areas that were under the rule of the Roman emperor. The images of rulers on the currencies that were used during Roman civilizations indicated the presence of the rulers among the people.
This is a coin with an image of Claudio who was one of the powerful rulers during Roman civilizations (Guillermo, 2005). There were very many artworks during Roman civilizations but I have only mentioned a few of them. The artworks during the Roman civilizations are currently preserved in museums in Italy and other major museums around the world. For example, ‘World Art Museum’ is a very big museum in Beijing, China and it contains a lot of artworks during Roman civilizations. The arts reveal various talents that artists had in those early days. The arts also reveal the culture and religion of people during Roman civilizations.
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In conclusion, art during early civilizations was given a lot of attention to ensure that some desired messages were being conveyed to the people. In all the three civilizations that have been described above, artists were paid by religious leaders or political leadership. For example, churches in Rome employed artists to produce artworks that were related to their religion. Governments during the civilizations were also responsible for paying the artists who did artworks that were praising the rulers.
The governments of the empires and dynasties paid their artists to form taxes they collected from the people who were under their rules. Most artworks during early civilizations are currently being preserved in various museums around the world. This gives a chance to the current and future generations to see various arts that existed in those early days. Some of art pieces that existed during early civilizations are currently used to give identities to some nations. For instance, the images of pharaohs and pyramids that existed during Egyptian civilizations are used to give Egypt an identity as a nation. Egyptians also use the images to market their tourism industry throughout the world.
Boardman, J., (1998). The Late Classical Period and Sculpture in Colonies and Overseas. London: Thames & Hudson.
Bothmer, V., (1996). Live Body Performance Artists and Comparison with other artists. New York: Harper and Row Publishers.
Guillermo, G., (2005). Art and Experience in Classical Greece. Routledge, London: Woodlands publishing Company.
Oakes, L., (2003). Ancient Egypt: An Illustrated Reference to the Myths, Religions, Pyramids and Temples of the Land of the Pharaohs. New York, New York: Barnes & Noble.
Ryholt, K., (1997). The Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum.
Smith, R., (2005). Legendary Artists and their Impacts on Civilizations. New York: W.B. Saunders Company.