Throughout history art has served as a preservation and representation of the time in which they were made. During the Ancient Greek period art was not only mare naturalistic and humanistic but also became directly affected by the events going around. Both the Marble Statue of an Old Woman and the Marble Statue of Aphrodite are sculptures that were made during the Ancient Greek era, they each tell a story of what was going on during that point in time.
The Marble Statue of Aphrodite is the eldest of the two sculptures, it was sculpted between the 2nd and 3rd century B . C. During this period Greece was at its peak, the people of Greece had power and wealth. The art made at this time depicted the peace of the Greeks and power that they had attained. The Greeks believed that this greatness was due to the gods and goddesses, as they were polytheistic; keeping the gods and goddesses happy meant good things for the Greeks. Many of the buildings that were built were built as offerings to show their beliefs and to display what mattered most to the people of Greece.
The marble Statue of Aphrodite is one of these artworks dedicated to the goddesses. Aphrodite was believed to be the goddess of love, lust and sexuality she was also a symbol of strength; she gave the men of the military hope and optimism when going into battle. As Aphrodite was the goddess of love and lust her statues and sculptures were almost always nude or partially nude. As in this marble sculpture where Aphrodite is pictured fully nude, her face expressionless which is a key attribute to the events going in Greece at the time.
Almost all sculptures during this time were expressionless as a symbol that Greece had no major worries, there was no pain or suffering amongst the people and there was a general sense of peace and stability. She is in a contro- postal pose, her feet shifted and most of her weight distributed into one leg. Her arms are now missing as they have fallen off due to the fact that the sculpture is over 3000 years old and aging has worn out the material. Another reason why the arms have fallen off is because, unlike the major societies before them, Greeks believed in humanistic art.
Societies before the Greeks, such as the Egyptians, used to keep the material between what would be spaces between arms and body and the legs. This form of art was not humanistic not realistic enough for the Greeks so most of their artwork follows the ideals of humanism. Artists would break off the extra material that would remain after the statue was fully sculpted. To further the realistic look of the Aphrodite sculpture the artist, who is unknown at this time, detailed the curves of her body. You can view the lines of her stomach and breasts which are simple and uncomplicated and create an image that looks like a real woman.
Greeks continued with the ideas of humanism and realism even as their society aged and changed. Like many great societies before them Greeks hit a climactic point in their era that had people uneasy and artist evolving away from the artistic norms that had been practiced for years; this new era was known as the Hellenistic Period. The Sculpture of an Old Woman is an example of this radical change in art; still loyal to the idea of humanism this sculpture is not of a goddess or soldier, as many arts were based on before, it was of a normal average, everyday elder woman who could have simply been walking down the street.
Not only did the artist stray away from the norms of subject matter but they also stepped away from the expressionless simplistic art that had been around for centuries. The old woman sculpted was not in the traditional contro-postal pose instead she is hovered almost as if she is being weighed down by something or perhaps just the sad truth of aging when your body is no longer as strong as it once was. Her face, which is not almost completely fallen off from the statue, may have been in some sort of realistic expression, as opposed to the Aphrodite sculpture.
I can imagine her face being in pain or perhaps sadness; I came to that conclusion based on the body language of the art. She is hovered strained from a lifetime of work and deteriorating from signs of age, similarly to Greece at the time. Like many of its time the sculpture can be seen as a metaphor for what the Greeks were going through during the Hellenistic period. No longer was the empire in control and in power instead Greece was now falling due to the Roman Empire.
The people and cities within Greece were now in chaos because the extravagant lifestyle they had grown accustomed to was being torn away more and more as each day passed. Both pieces of art were originally sculpted during the Greek period but the images that now remain were actually sculpted during the Roman era, making both pieces remakes of original pieces. Similarly, both pieces were also made out of marble, as it is a resource that is of great quantity in that area of Europe.
They are also lifelike statues not overbearingly tall nor extremely short each does fall upon approximately 5 feet or so. Although both pieces are not equally dedications to higher beings the Sculpture of the Old Woman has artifacts sculpted within it that can be attributed to the idea that the old woman is making offerings to a higher being in order to help her through difficult times. It is most interesting to see how the current events of ones lifetimes can affect the art that is made.
Most people believe that the only way to tell these stories is through books and other forms of writing. Personally it is more amazing to see how creative an artistic can get to convey a message from a visual aspect rather than clearly writing what the art was based on. Looking at both sculptures side to side I could not help but to feel for the people living during these times, going from a peaceful and prospering power to having everything torn away and having to live through the chaos.
Courtney from Study Moose
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