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Greek and African Art & Culture of Civilizations


Historically, art arises when a man goes beyond the satisfaction of his immediate physical needs and is allowed to create. Thus, art is a unique form of human exploration of the world, in which the world is presented through forms of human activity, communication, and self-realization. It gives a brief reflection and unfolded projections of individual existence and its spatial and temporal unity. Art preserves the synthetic nature of the human activity, although, in various types of culture, there are noticeable differences in the dominant forms, the ways of their creation, the schemes of their functioning, and translation. Thus, for a more detailed study of the topic, this paper compared two works of art from different cultures, Greek and African, and summarized the main results.

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Comparison of Greek Art and African Art

Art plays a crucial role in the development of society and humanity as a whole. However, each nation, each country had its purpose and explanation for art. The idea of culture with the ancient Greeks was to promote harmonious development: spiritual and physical, mental and professional-labor, political and moral. It was the main object and meaning of culture. Whereas the concept of African art is full of religiosity and existence, the hero of the culture of ancient Greece is man as the highest work of nature without defects (Frank, 2004). African art has characteristic features that always distinguish it from the art of other continents. Masters seldom aspire to realism; they often simplify forms and abstraction, using distorted, hypertrophied proportions, which directly contrasts the idealized Greek figures.

Comparison of the Works

Greek art is markedly different from African, as noted earlier. This difference consists both in the appearance of the works and in their content. The Bronze statuette of Aphrodite with silver eyes was made in the 3rd-1st centuries B.C. (Bronze statuette of Aphrodite, 2021). It is a full-length figure with a realistic silhouette. The static nature of the pose is emphasized by the particular arrangement of the legs, with the right leg moved forward and the left leg backward. Here can be noted the attitude of this culture to the human body in art: the physical form is close to perfection, the figure of Aphrodite is feminine, and the skin is smooth. The outward focus goes on beauty, but at the same time, Hellenistic Greek sculpture confirms the classical tendency of the time toward naturalism. Although the content of the work is also historical, as it recalls the cause of the Trojan War, its appearance displays a harmony of body and spirit.

African art carries a different message: it serves as a conduit between religion and human existence. One of the works of this culture is Figure from a Reliquary Ensemble: Seated Female, which was created in the 19th-early 20th century (Figure from a reliquary ensemble, 2021). This sculpture shows the female body from a different angle: a muscular body, strong legs, rough facial features, and a massive neck. There are decorations all over the body, but they are not elements of beauty: they represent the people’s customs. The important accent is the dangling oval chest: it does not belong to the characteristics of femininity but emphasizes the apparent attributes of power. Although this work was done much later than the work of Greek authors, it conveys the connection with the past to a greater extent. This image, filled with confidence, calmness, and strength, embodies beauty for African art, which will be more beautiful for them and many other masters than the statue of Aphrodite.


Art remains one of the most critical forms of translation and, therefore, preserves the human experience. It also acts as a form of renewal of this experience because each generation expresses mastering existence uniquely. The emphasis changes historically and depends on time, culture, and people’s values. The preservation of art, its specificity, and its social function is achieved in the images of different lifestyles and nationalities. Accordingly, it is essential to preserve works, study them, and disseminate knowledge because art has not only aesthetic value but also moral and historical.


Bronze statuette of Aphrodite with silver eyes. (2021). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web.

Figure from a reliquary ensemble: Seated female. (2021). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web.

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Frank, P. (2004). Artforms. Pearson Prentice Hall.

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