Monday, December 20, 2010

Idealized Reality

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.


  1. Très bel hommage que votre peinture à l'art grec.
    Très jolie composition et harmonie de couleurs...
    Je vous souhaite de joyeuses fêtes.

  2. great gestures on the viewers in your painting...very interesting composition....they also have a cast in London of David with a viewing bridge above the statue as well as looking from the floor. When looking down on David, he is a really skinny young man with a huge can really see the reverse really left an impression on me

  3. Thank you, Martine. I hope you have very merry holidays as well.
    It would be so interesting to see David from that angle, Christine, though I don't know that I want to alter my impression of his beauty with a dose of reality!

  4. Shirley, the posturing of the child in the blue jacket is perfection! Great job! Merry Christmas! Denise

  5. Thank you, Denise and Merry Christmas to you, too.

  6. Great job w/ the values in the blue shirt!

  7. This is a lovely painting of a great subject - there is so much to be read into the stance of the viewers and their rapt attention to the idealization of beauty. I enjoyed reading your commentary as well!

  8. Thank you so much, Susan. I just visited your blog and loved your latest post.

  9. Shirley, Thanks so much for visiting my blog!! So cool that we live so close and discovered one another in the blogosphere. I love your work!! This makes me want to go visit the Parthenon again. I look forward to your next post.

  10. Wonderful painting and of course the little gal in front steals the show. Thanks for visiting my blog back in October.


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...