Erotic Art Histories

Egyptian: For over three thousand years the Egyptians adhered to a prescribed set of rules as to how a work of art in three dimensions should be presented. Egyptian art was highly symbolic and a painting or sculpture was not meant to be a record of a momentary impression. Apparent differences were the result of subtle changes, not an altered conception of art or its role in society.

Of the materials used by the Egyptian sculptor -- clay, wood, metal, ivory, and stone -- stone was the most plentiful and permanent, available in a wide variety of colors and hardness. Sculpture was often painted in vivid hues as well. Egyptian sculpture has two qualities that are distinctive; it can be characterized as cubic and frontal. It nearly always echoes in its form the shape of the stone cube or block from which it was fashioned, partly because it was an image conceived from four viewpoints. The front of almost every statue is the most important part and the figure sits or stands facing strictly to the front. This suggests to the modern viewer that the ancient artist was unable to create a naturalistic representation, but it is clear that this was not the intention...

Greek: The art of the ancient Greeks and Romans is called classical art. This name is used also to describe later periods in which artists looked for their inspiration to this ancient style. The Romans learned sculpture and painting largely from the Greeks and helped to transmit Greek art to later ages. Classical art owes its lasting influence to its simplicity and reasonableness, its humanity, and its sheer beauty. The first and greatest period of classical art began in Greece about the middle of the 5th century BC. By that time Greek sculptors had solved many of the problems that faced artists in the early archaic period. They had learned to represent the human form naturally and easily, in action or at rest.

 

They were interested chiefly in portraying gods, however. They thought of their gods as people, but grander and more beautiful than any human being. They tried, therefore, to portray ideal beauty rather than any particular person. Their best sculptures achieved almost godlike perfection in their calm, ordered beauty. The Greeks had plenty of beautiful marble and used it freely for temples as well as for their sculpture They were not satisfied with its cold whiteness, however, and painted both their statues and their buildings. Some statues have been found with their bright colors still preserved, but most of them lost their paint through weathering...

Italian Renaissance: Among the Italian schools of painting the Venetian has, for the majority of art-loving people, the strongest and most enduring attraction. In the course of the present brief account of the life of that school we shall perhaps discover some of the causes of our peculiar delight and interest in the Venetian painters, as we come to realize what tendencies of the human spirit their art embodied, and of what great consequence their example has been to the whole of European painting for the last three centuries...

Art Nouveau: An international style of decoration and architecture which developed in the 1880s and 1890s. The name derives from the Maison de l'Art Nouveau, an interior design gallery opened in Paris in 1896, but in fact the movement had different names throughout Europe. In Germany it was known as 'Jugendstil', from the magazine Diejugend (Youth) published from 1896; in Italy 'Stile Liberty' (after the London store, Liberty Style) or 'Floreale'; in Spain 'Modernista', in Austria 'Sezessionstil' and, paradoxically, in France the English term 'Modern Style' was often used, emphasizing the English origins of the movement...

 


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