Fascinating Art in the Hellenistic period

Alexander fighting the Persian king Darius III. From the Alexander Mosaic, Naples National Archaeological Museum.

Hellenistic art is the art of the Hellenistic period generally taken to begin with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and end with the conquest of the Greek world by the Romans, a method well undertaken by 146 BCE when the Greek mainland was taken, and ending in 30 BCE with the success of Ptolemaic Egypt following the Battle of Actium. A number of the best-known works of Greek sculpture belong to this period, including Laocoön and His Sons, Venus de Milo, and the Winged Victory of Samothrace. It mirrors an era of Classical Greek art, while the following Greco-Roman art was very largely a succession of Hellenistic trends.

The Hellenistic Period was a thorough interpretation of the artists’ inner emotions and feelings i.e., ‘real,’ rather than just external class or ‘ideal.’ The Hellenistic artworks mostly themed on daily life, and on the emotive exhibit of Gods & humans, including heroes.

The architecture of the Hellenistic Period was pretty innovative. The building plans were framed in natural settings, rather than operating on the space through the correction of defaults. There existed a significant rise in the number of theatres and parks during this period. The first-ever theatre was constructed during this period only. In addition, the monarchies situated in several cities, especially the one situated in “Pergamon” (281-133 BC), one of the masterpieces with its imposing altar, known as ‘of the twelve gods’ or ‘of the Gods and of the giants,’ are the other specialties of the period.

One of the unique features of Greek Art in the Hellenistic period is the “Second Classicist” sculptures, highlighting the extreme expressions of pain, stress, anger, fear, and despair, such as in “Winged Victory of Samothrace” (220-190 BC). The statue exemplifies the dramatic drapery and the supple poses with the help of clear clothing. In “Laocoon and his Sons” (160 BC), an anguished ‘Laocoon,’ illustrates a father, smothered by snakes, struggling hopelessly to be freed, without being able to look at his dying sons. The sculpture certainly is a proficient blend of the effects of changes and deep emotions. The statues created during the Hellenistic Period inspired a character in the subject, betraying its social conditions and beliefs. The erotic themes spread their wings too, as evident through the statues of “Aphrodite,” “Eros,” “Satyrs,” “Dionysus,” and “Pan,” in myriad patterns and styles.

The Hellenistic Art also incorporated wall paintings & mosaic art, such as the “Alexander Mosaic” (200 BC), from the House of the Faun, Pompeii. In addition, Ceramics, Metallic Arts, and Glass Art to offer enough fascinating works. Overall, the art of Greece in the Hellenistic Period underwent several transformations and emerged on the road the ‘Classical’ artists paved previously, such as dramatic poses, flowing delineations, and conflicting use of light, shadow, & sentiments.

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