In This Article Greek Art and Architecture

  • Introduction
  • Art and Aesthetics
  • Art and Religion
  • Art and Text
  • Art, Gender, and Sexuality
  • Art, Myth, and Narrative
  • Looting and Illegal Excavation
  • Masters, Copies, and Connoisseurship
  • Portraiture

Art History Greek Art and Architecture
by
Richard Neer
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920105-0005

Introduction

Greek art is one of the oldest subjects in humanistic study and it is impossible to provide a deep, historical overview of the topic. The present article is, instead, a guide to current research. Emphasis is on publications of the last twenty-five years; readers seeking to go deeper will find, in the texts cited here, a ready guide to earlier scholarship. Given its close ties to primary archaeological research, the study of Greek art boasts a robust tradition of “corpus scholarship”: the presentation of large bodies of material organized by style, medium, date, theme, or some combination thereof. This taxonomic or classificatory impulse derives in large part from the role of style and type in stratigraphic sequencing. It encourages a certain systematicity in research, rigorous in the best sense but with a tendency to obscure the incomplete nature of archaeological evidence. Within this framework, the past twenty-five years have witnessed two divergent, even antithetical tendencies in research: on the one hand, the advent of quantificatory methods derived from the social sciences; on the other, a growing willingness to move beyond style and iconography and to engage the transformations in art-historical theory and method that began in the 1970s and 1980s. In light of these points, this article has three main divisions. The first consists of introductory overviews and general treatments by medium; the second presents basic corpora by period, with an emphasis on synthetic treatments; the third reviews recent thematic and iconographic scholarship. Monographic studies of particular monuments are, unfortunately, outside the scope of this essay, which aims rather to provide readers with the tools to approach individual monuments without treating them in detail. Distinct patterns in publishing emerge, notably a reluctance of anglophone university presses to publish basic reference works outside the textbook or “companion” format.

General Research Resources

This section covers basic research tools. Emphasis is on surveys, databases, and general discussions that cover multiple periods and media. Trends in university publishing mean that, since the mid-1990s, advanced surveys have become increasingly rare in English, where the “companion” format has largely displaced the traditional narrative survey.

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