June 25, 2015
It’s The Little Things
Details, no matter how big or small, make a major impact on a work of art. Details keep the viewer’s attention longer for them to be able to appreciate the piece even more. The way artists use these techniques is their way of expressing a story or idea. The Terracotta calyx-krater, currently on display at the Metropolitan Art Museum, is a perfect example of how detail goes a long way in any art form. With this krater, although huge in size, only the most ambitious craftsmen would take it upon themselves to decorate (). Originally decorated with abstract designs, toward 800 BCE, humans and animals figures began to appear within the geometric designs (2). Minor details like the lines, shapes, and figures created, along with the stories these pieces represent, the little things mean the most.
This subject was chosen originally for its large size compared to other pieces but then the style and effort put into this piece is what made it so interesting. The obvious fact is that individuals tend to look at what is larger, since they look for bigger and better things. With a quick glance, the viewer is capable of seeing three registers, the two outside bands containing floral designs, and the center housing a group of figures in movement. The two outside bands with floral designs look almost perfect and aligned with one another. The time and attention to detail was most important in these sections.
The two floral, stylized vines are a continuous design wrapping around the krater, fit the geometric shape of the bowl. Curves and loops that can only be created with thin brushes and red-figure technique, allow much more precision when creating the lines and curves. While the top register has a continuous frieze of what looks like flowers and vines, the bottom frieze changes once it meets the bottom handles. One side carries a floral design, while the other has leaves. The base of the Terracotta calyx-krater can be compared to an Ionic Style base of a column in a temple.
The middle register holds what looks like a battle scene that is explained by the museum wall text. The text explained that an Amazon, a mythical-race of warrior women, sits frontal mounted on a horse and is surrounded by figures overlapping with weapons and demonstrating a battle scene. There is major attention to detail with the robes, headpieces, weapons, and armor on the soldiers and creatures. Although it is not included in the wall text near this specific subject, another krater about the Amazons that is displayed in the MET as well explains that ancient Greeks would never express specific and historical events through art (1). Instead, mythological battles between the Greeks were created to express pride and membrane for victories in war.
The Terracotta calyx-krater, stands at close to 22 inches high, definitely grabs the attention of any individual that comes close to its view. By using the red-figure technique, which is the reverse of black-figure technique, the artist was able to have more freedom and free range when creating this piece. The red-figure technique depicts figures with a red color in contract with a black background painted by the artist. The advantages of red-figure technique come in when fine details are created with a brush, that doesn’t limit the figures to silhouettes. The scene depicted in the krater expressing movement and battle which is another advance and important aspect. The ability to create more detail and create these battle warriors with more of a naturalistic look (3). Form and emotion is growing more naturalistically in this period compared to the East and West Pediment of the Temple of Aphia as an example. This introduces the transition between the Archaic to the Classical period in Greek Art.
Kraters are large bowls used to mix wine or water that were used for special occasions exclusively for men. With handles on opposite side, these bowls would be located at the center of...
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