Monday, December 20, 2010
The statue fragment in the above painting is what's left of Poseidon, an over-life-size marble that once decorated the exterior of the Parthenon in Athens. Or rather it's a cast of Poseidon's torso; the original is in London and is one of the famous Elgin Marbles. This Poseidon can be found in my hometown, inside our full-size replica of the Parthenon. Even though he's made of concrete rather than Pentelic marble, he still has the power to inspire.
He's an excellent example of the Greek love affair with idealized reality. Some 2,500 plus years ago, Greek artists abandoned the stylizations and conventions of Eastern art and began their pursuit of the real.
They wanted to recreate what our eyes see. This necessitates all sorts of tricks and illusions on the part of the artist. And though the rules of perspective probably weren't formulated (the rules had to wait for the Renaissance), foreshortening, the creation of form and mass, the illusion of depth and distance were all part of the Greek artist's bag of tricks.
I said that the Greeks wanted to reproduce what our eyes see. Actually they wanted to create a vision of reality perfected, where the real is always beautiful. It's a goal artists are still pursuing 2,500 years later.
Admiration Society is a 14x9 oil. By the way, passing viewers often reach up to touch Poseidon; they simply can't resist.