Friday, December 25, 2015

Ancient Greek Pottery

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Introduction to Pottery
In the picture above you’ll see a bunch of household items from my home that I bet you can recognize the uses of automatically. For example, on the left-hand side we see a coffee mug with a Batman logo on it. We know it’s a coffee mug because it has a handle. Ifyou live in America in the 21st century you probably know that that logo represents Batman and you probably know also that Batman is a fictitious hero. Some of you also recognize Ernie on the right-hand side. From Sesame Street. From the shapes of the bottles you’re probably able to tell that one contains jam and the other hot sauce. You know the jam bottle has a wide opening and that the hot sauce hasa narrow opening and this is to regulate howmuch of the stuff can get out of the jar easily.
You wouldn’t want the hot sauce to pour out his easily as you could get a spoonful of jelly out of the jelly jar. The shape and decorations on the jars are automatically recognized by us in the same thing would be true for the ancient Greeks.
Context: These diagrams are designed to provide you with a context for some of the vessels in this section. In the same way that we can identify a ketchup bottle from a wine bottle, the

Greeks were trained from an early age to be able to identify the vessels they used and the purpose for them.
The names linked with each vessel tell us something about them. For example, a hydria with the root of hydra sounds suspiciously like our words hydrate and hydrant, both of which deal with water. This vessel is then used for water.

• Early Greek Pottery, Sculpture and Architecture
• Geometric, Orientalizing and Archaic Greek Pottery
• Geometric Period 1050 BCE - 700 BCE (700 BCE)
• Orientalizing Period 700 BCE - 600 BCE (600BCE)
• Archaic Period 600 BCE - 480 BCE (600 BCE)
Greek art goes through several phases in terms of pottery and sculpture as well as architecture. The timeline above
lays out roughly the periods that you should memorize. You might also want to just use the
bracketed dates as the date for objects in each stage or period of art. Contextual Analysis
When you study art history you should notice that it’s not always a clear evolution from one period to the next. For example, the Minoans who came before the Greeks on the mainland had a very sophisticated and advanced civilization that included texts and advanced, sophisticated, pottery and architecture. However, the Greeks go through a kind of dark. Or dark ages between
1200 to about 1000 BCE. The Greeks completely lose any written language and when they do

start to develop writing around 800 BCE perhaps a little earlier, they take their alphabet from the Phoenicians.

In the geometric phase of pottery in the ancient Greek world what you see is very simple designs that are not as realistic or naturalistic as the Minoan counterparts we studied from around 12 to 1500 BCE. We don’t have a written record of what the decorations on the vases are supposed to mean and since they are not naturalistic we have to just assume that the early decorations on geometric vases are just that geometric designs.

Formal Analysis
The pot was ornamented with engobe or slip and then fired. Engobe is a glaze made of thinned down clay sometimes called slip which has additives such as iron oxides which turn colors when fired which n this case a dark brownish black color. The ornamentation of the vase is organized into a series of registers or frets of unequal size. An interesting detail about this vase from the Cantor Center at the Stanford Museum is that the frets are vertical in this part where is the earlier examples the frets are horizontal and probably achieved by putting the pot on a wheel and spun while holding the brush stationary. The ornamentation are decoration on proto-geometric vases is often very simple and achieved usually mechanically. For example, the circles on these vases would’ve been made using a sort of compass. Horizontal bands are made just by spinning the pot on the potter’s wheel.

Iconographic Analysis
The decorations on proto-geometric vases really don’t represent anything so they are just abstract designs and probably just a simple way to satisfy the impulse to decorate a household item that was a necessity. If you look in your own cupboards you’ll see probably some pottery of your own that doesn’t have any meaning to it it just has simple colorful decorations on it that are pleasing to the eye. It seems that in the next phase called the geometric phase of pottery many of the same types of designs are used however there are more squared off shapes used. There will also be some real representation of objects or things.

This vase found in a cemetery shares in some of the qualities of the proto-geometric style however it is clearly more of a representation of a scene. In this case there are variety of scenes that depict funerary processions as well as a funeral pyre.

Formal Analysis
Overall the design exhibits a similar horror vacui to the vases from Knossos in that every empty space on the vase has been filled with geometric patterns and ornaments. The more figurative registers depict the bodies as flat, geometricized forms that are pushed up against the front of the picture plane. There is no overlapping and no sense of deeper space.
The figures represented on the vases are stylized in a geometric way. They are painted as if they are flat silhouette’s combined with a sort of stick figure design. You can identify who each of the figures genders are by small notations that represent breasts and male genitals. This takes us into the iconographic realm.

The scenes on most of the vases found at the cemetery depict a funerary parade or procession as well as a type of platform on which the body is laid out and prestige items and gifts are laid out underneath the body. Each figures' sex is denoted by their role and ornamentation. The figures to the left and right of the funerary bier (platform) have two small bumps under the armpits that represent breasts. These figures represent females whose arms are raised in mourning or are literally pulling their hair out in grief. This denotes the role and response expected from the female in this culture. Beneath this register are the soldiers. Protruding from their thighs are small bumps which represent their penises.
Context: The Dipylon vase is an example of Greek geometric art that was found in the city's Dipylon cemetery. The pot documents funerary practices and particularly the newer practice of cremation in Athens. This vase was used as a grave marker which had a hole in the top of the vase and one in the bottom,
which upon pouring oil in the vase, this would feed the souls that lay underneath or it would serve simply to drain the water. There are divisions of laborers making these pots. There were potters, who made the pots and there were painters who painted the scenes on the pots. The style that we call the geometric style was not just reserved for at the portrayal of funerary events. This vase from the Cantor center is somewhat shorter and probably used for household items.

You can see that it has a lot of the same qualities as the vases from the cemetery and even the horses are depicted in a similar way. So the iconography of this phase while sharing in some of the elements, such as the horses and small animals, was probably decorated for a different purpose. It also appears that one of the things about Greek art and probably Roman art by extension is the idea of schema and correction. The concept of schema and correction is something that an art historian named Ernst Gombrich made popular in the 1930s to 1950s. The concept is basically that there is a “schema" that is the plan that another artist will copy. We saw some examples of this in the Minoan civilization where the Mycenaeans admired the Minoan culture so much that they copied or imported some of their art. However when later artists copy an earlier theme or design they corrected it or change it to improve on it for what they need. It’s a little bit like Darwin’s theory of evolution, in that things change over time to suit the needs of the environment that there in. The same thing happens in Greek art and potters are constantly trying to improve on the designs that they had from before so this leads to another phase of art called the Orientalizing phase of pottery. This phase also exists in architecture and sculpture.
Form: The ornamentation of the vase is organized into a series of registers or frets of almost equal size and this appears to be fairly common in black figure vases of the Orientalizing period. Each register is devoted to a scene which depicts mythological or real creatures. The ornamentation of the registers contains less geometricized and more naturalistic figures than the earlier geometric period's designs. The bottom most register has an organic papyrus (?) leaf pattern but others from this phase often have purely geometric forms in this register. The mythological animals, in this case a kind of griffin, are a composite creature consisting of an eagle head, lion's body and wings. Overall the design exhibits a similar horror vacui to the vases from Knossos in that every empty space on the vase has been filled with flower like designs or medallions. My teacher called these designs doodads.

Developed initially in Corinth, the black-figure style in which the vase is decorated builds on the technology of earlier styles of decoration. The natural color of the clay is used as the back ground. Engobe is still used to create silhouettes and touches of red purple gloss are applied here and there but the polychrome of the vase is supplemented by incising details with a sharp stylus or awl. This is sometime referred to as ”scraffito” which is a word somewhat related to the word graffiti.
Iconography: The mythological monsters or an animal, in this case a kind of griffin, is a composite creature consisting of an eagle head, lion's body and wings. The individual attributes of the griffin on this vase may represent undefeatable carrion and predatory monster since it has the characteristics of two formidable animals.
Creatures like this are usually the guardians of a sacred precinct that pose a threat or a challenge to a hero. For example, in the myth of Oedipus, Oedipus is confronted by an enigmatic monster with the head of a woman, the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, called a Sphinx. This Sphinx put a stranglehold on the city of Thebes by closing off the main road to the city. When an individual attempted to pass, the Sphinx posed a life or death question, "What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three in the evening?" If the
traveler solved the riddle (which none did until Oedipus) he or she would be allowed to pass safely. If the traveler was unable to solve the riddle the Sphinx tore her or him apart. Oedipus was able to answer this riddle; "It is man who crawls as an infant, in adulthood walks on two and as old age with the aid of a cane."

Context: This style represents a formal and iconographic correction of two earlier schemas. The formal correction is that the Corinthian artists who first developed the style took the existing technology and added the engraved scraffito. They also built on the initial designs of the geometric period and combined them with other culture's naturalistic manner of depicting animals and creatures. The subject matter changed from a simple funerary scene to a more decorative motif.
Art historians believe that the griffin, and creatures like it, have an "eastern" or "oriental" or Asian kind of feeling. Marilyn Stokstad states, "the source of these motifs can be traced to the arts of the Near East, Asia Minor, and Egypt. The term "Orientalized" although an accepted art historical term seems to have a rather Eurocentric meaning. The term seems to lump all the cultures east of Greece in this blanket term and therefore tends to generalize a bit too much.
Form: The ornamentation of this vase is organized into a series of registers or frets of almost equal size and this appears to be fairly common in black figure vases of the Orientalizing period. Each register is devoted to a scene which depicts mythological creatures or people. The ornamentation of the registers contains less geometricized and more naturalistic figures than the earlier geometric period's designs. Overall the design exhibits a similar horror vacui to the vases from Knossos in that every empty space on the vase has been filled with flower like rosettes or lozenge like forms.
The figures are stylized curvilinear and cartoon like. The figures of the men in the top register are shown in a modified composite view whereas the Gorgons in the bottom most register are even more abstracted. Developed initially in Corinth, the black-figure style in which the vase is decorated builds on the technology of earlier styles of decoration. The natural color of the clay is used as the background. Engobe is still used to create a silhouettes and touches of red purple gloss are applied here and there but the polychrome of the vase is supplemented by incising details with a sharp awl.

Formal Analysis
This phase is painted with slip and on engobe and then fired. It was thrown on a wheel and it was considered a Nam for a design because it has two handles. It was most likely a decorative item because the handles would make this vessel hard to hold and the handles themselves are delicately ornamented. The ornamentation on the handles themselves reflect the Orientalizing style.

The figures on the top register are fairly naturalistic views of the human body in profile. The eyes are depicted in a frontal view. The bodies are well muscled and are fairly accurately proportioned. There is one giant creature on the right-hand side who has a spear being driven into his eye by the other three figures. Two of the figures have a black silhouetted body while one has been painted with a lighter glaze that appears almost white.
The second major scene is located in the middle fret. This scene depicts a boar as well as some other kinds of animals. This scene is divided from the bottom scene with a rope like pattern. The bottom scene represents in a very stylized and cartoonlike fashion three female forms were dressed somewhat in the motive Knossos. Their heads are highly stylized and have sneaks springing from their ears and shoulders. The proportions of the arms to the heads are mismatched and the bodies themselves are highly stylized. The scene seems to continue with several other figures around the vase.
 Iconographic Analysis
There are three distinctive scenes on this vase. Two of them it’s very clear what they represent the central one is not. Starting from the top the scene that we see in the topmost register is a scene in which Odysseus and his men are blinding the monster/giant Polyphemus. The story from the Odyssey concerns Odysseus trying to return home after the Trojan wars. His men and he arrive on an island that is dominated by the sons of the God Poseidon. These giants are all single eyed giants called Cyclopses. This relates to the architecture at Mycenae in which they thought giant monsters, the Cyclops, moved the large blocks of stone.

Odysseus and his men land on the island and enter into the one eyed giant’s cave. The giant named Polyphemus is not home. In Polyphemus’s absence Odysseus and his men helped themselves to the food in the giant’s cave.  Polyphemus comes home to his cave and is preceded by his flock of sheep. Odysseus is men in stunned silence watch as the one eyed giant roles a large boulder in front of the entrance of the cave. Polyphemus sees what Odysseus and his men have done in his cave and responds by eating several of Odysseus’s men. Odysseus convinces the Cyclops to stop. He explains that he has magic in his head and if the Cyclops eats it he will not benefit from it. Odysseus also introduces himself by the name of “Nobody.” Then Odysseus and his men offer the Cyclops wine, the Cyclops has never had one before. The Cyclops drunkenly falls asleep. Although the Cyclops is asleep the men cannot escape because the boulder is in front of the door.
Odysseus and his men sharpen and fire harden the tip of a great spear or timber. They then plunge the hot tip into Polythemus’s eye. Polyphemus tries to find the men to get them but cannot because the men have hidden themselves tied to the bottom of the sheep knowing that Polyphemus must let out the sheep to graze. Polyphemus in order to let his sheep out roles the boulder back but stands in the doorway and feels the top of each sheep to see that it’s not a man. However, Odysseus and his men are tied to the bottom of the sheep and they escape.
Look at the vase an amphora can see that the two men behind Odysseus are painted in a darker color, this is probably just to distinguish them from the leader who is coded in a lighter color. You can also see between the Cyclops who is as tall as a man while he is seated and Odysseus is a small decoration that looks like an amphora. All of the elements in the story are in the picture. We have Odysseus and his men, a spear, a wine vessel, and a giant who is trying to push the spear out of his eye.

Polyphemus realizes that the men have escaped begins to yell to his brothers “Nobody has blinded me!” His brothers ignore his cries assuming that there’s “nobody” there and ignore his cries. Odysseus from the ship taunts Polyphemus and Polyphemus throws great boulders at the ship as it sails away.

There are several themes and ideas that are presented in this vase and the tail of Odysseus and Polyphemus is at the top of it. It’s not random that they chose a story from the
major work of art of the era. Odysseus is a heroic type and this is really important to the Greek world. One idea is that in these tales of the Iliad and the Odyssey that were written down somewhere in the ninth or eighth centuries B.C.E. establish a new standard for what it means to be Greek. Odysseus is the prototype of a great hero for the Greeks because he is both intelligent and physically able. He is also clever. In opposition to this the Cyclops in a way represents the other point of view.

The Cyclops has only one I and can see things only in one way. He is a giant and physically powerful however he represents the opposite of what Odysseus and his men are which is people who can see two points of view and also allow themselves to be clever as well as relying on strength and heroic physical action. Think of him as the Superman of the day.
The next scene we see is just underneath the scene in which Odysseus blinds the Cyclops. The scene underneath it is called the Caledonian Boar Hunt. It’s another story of heroism in which a monstrous boar attacks a city and the men band together to defeat it. Both stories also deal a little bit with the theme called hubris. Hubris is a theme that will have to talk about quite a bit in this class.
Hubris is when an individual is so full of pride and arrogance that they commit an act that offends the gods. In Greek mythology the gods always visit revenge on that person. In the tell of Odysseus he was boasting that he was more powerful than Poseidon at one point and so Poseidon did not allow him to come home for many years after the Trojan wars. Poseidon was punishing Odysseus for his acts of hubris. The Caledonian Boar was sent because the King had offended the goddess Artemis by not paying tribute to her. So she sent the boar as punishment. In most cases of hubris the people of committed the act need to make reparations by doing something heroic and thoughtful. Heroic and patriotic acts are the most powerful ones that any man can make in the ancient Greek world. It’s basically a form of propaganda to get people to be good soldiers and citizens. Sort of like our stories about George Washington never lying.

The image beneath the boar hunt is a representation of the three Gorgons who are the unfortunate offspring of two other gods. They are described as being so hideous that one turns to stone if they look at them. They have horrible men’s faces and snakes for hair. The hero Perseus uses his intelligence to kill them. He shines up a shield and looks at a blurred reflection of the Medusa and cut her head off and uses it later to defeat his enemies. I suppose if you look at Greek art you could say that you can judge a book by its cover. In the story of Medusa and Perseus as well as the story of the Cyclops their physical deformities match the character of the creature. Both Cyclops and Medusa are described as being very ugly and in some ways treacherous. If you go back to Minoan art you’ll remember that King Minos’s son the Minotaur was punishment for an act of hubris on his part and also represented in some ways being bullheaded. One of the great things that’s a lot of fun about studying Greek art and Greek mythology is that you can use these themes over and over again and discuss them in complex ways. A lot of the themes that we’ve just discussed are often used even in today’s movies. For example the Joker and the Penguin are both ugly creatures in opposition to how Batman/Bruce Wayne looks. What the character looks like exemplifies the inner qualities of that character.

Francois Vase by Kleitias (painter) and Ergotimos (potter)
Black figure volute krater from Chiusis, Greece c570BCE 

Now in the Museo Archeologico, Florence, Archaic, black- figure
(ProtoAttic Style)
Proto means early and Attic refers to the region that it is from.

Formal Analysis
This is called a “volute krater” because the handles on either side are very similar to the volutes that
are found in architecture. It’s also called a krater because it was used as a large bowl to mix
wine and water together in. Look back at the beginning of this chapter and you’ll see the different shapes.
The reason why the formal elements of this vase are important is basically because it becomes more realistic than earlier pottery we’ve looked at. The vase that represented Polyphemus although it’s orientalized and the figures are outlines and are fairly realistic it doesn’t represent a high degree of naturalism. In this vase the figures are little bit more lifelike and defined more clearly. Most of the figures are almost silhouettes that are done in what’s called “black figure style.” The black figure style is a style of representing the human form in which the artist completely paints a silhouette of the figure in dark glaze and then etches away with a sharp
needle the details of the figure. In this black figure style vase some of the figures have faces that are glazed with a lighter color glaze than the clay is. However, a majority of the figures are represented in complete black figure.
The other formal qualities that are important about this vase are that the vase is much busier and has many more frets or bands to it than the earlier vase representing the blinding of Polythemus. In fact it’s packed with more than 200 figures. ) exhibits “ horror vacui” but does not contain the rosettes and ornaments of the Orientalizing period. Another interesting innovation is the
introduction of the written word into vase painting. Interspersed between all of the figures almost like labels in a comic book are the names and titles of the different characters represented on the vase.

The vase, signed twice by Kleitias (painter) and Ergotimos (potter). The ornamentation of this vase is organized into a series of registers or frets of almost equal size and this appears to be fairly common in black figure vases of the Orientalizing period. Each register is devoted to a scene which depicts mythological creatures or people. The ornamentation of these registers contains more than 200 naturalistic figures. These figures exhibit correction on the earlier Geometric or Orientalizing periods' designs by taking the the level of realism up a degree or two.

Iconographic Analysis
My Theory is that pottery was designed more or less with stories on it that people thought were valuable. And the things that were valuable about the stories were that they demonstrated shared beliefs and values. The Iliad and the Odyssey are almost like pattern books for good and bad behaviors for heroes. In the same way that we have war movies today that show people who are willing to die for their country, as well as works of intense fantasy like superhero movies, these films are stories that teach us our values. It is the same thing for the ancient Greeks.

The pot tells a story about Greek mythology, focusing on the exploits of Peleus and his son Achilles, the great hero of Homer's Iliad, and of Theseus, the legendary king of Athens. The detail scene depicts a centauromachy ( a battle between centaurs and humans). In this episode the Lapiths (whom Theseus aided) and and centaurs (half horse half man creatures) do battle after the wedding of Pirithous, king of the Lapiths. The centaurs, drunk after the celebration become unruly, and attempt to rape (in this case it means sexually and to abduct or steal them) the young boys and young girls. Apollo stops the battle and sends the centaurs home.
You’ve probably seen or heard the phrase “in Vino Veritas” kicked around on TV and in film. It’s just Latin for the phrase “in wine is truth.” While I have some friends who when they drink too much wine tend to act half assed. Isn’t this the description of a centaur. Half the animal, and notice it’s the bottom half, runs away with the centaurs when they get drunk. They are literally thinking with their bottom halves. So the centaur kind of represents the battle in all of us when
we’ve had too much to drink in which are animal nature gets hold of us and makes us not thoughtful.

For the ancient Greeks the idea that man had a wild side and a rational side, a sort of Jekyll and Hyde conception of humankind, and they referred to this as an Apollonian Dionysian conflict. The Apollonian Dionysian conflict is one in which the God Apollo, who represents rationality and orderly thinking, is conflicted with the God Dionysus who is the God of wine, drama, and freethinking. Literally the sacrament associated with Dionysian rites is wine. So when you are drinking you’re in the throes of ecstasy which is associated with freethinking and/or loose thinking. This isn’t always a bad thing. My belief is that in many representations of centaurs and of stories in which heroes fight monsters and other creatures are meant to be lessons. The lessons are also possibly political.

There are many theories concerning representations of centaurs as being symbolic of representing the Greeks’ enemies. For example, we will be studying the Parthenon built around 450 BCE. There are rows of relief sculptures called metopes in the entablature, the topmost portion of the building above the columns, that
represent Centaurs fighting Lapiths. One interpretation of the centaur is that it represents the Apollonian Dionysian conflict but some scholars believe that these representations are of the Persians who the Athenians just defeated. A safe interpretation is that it’s probably a little bit of both.

Contextual Analysis
Found by an archeologist named Francois, often you will see this vase referred to as an "Attic" vase or Attic black figure vase. The term Attic refers to its origins as Athenian but this Attic vase was found in Italy. This demonstrates the importance of trade and the reverence for the quality of Athenian workmanship.
Interlaced throughout the figures are the names of the character's on the vase and the vase is also signed. This indicates two things. The written word was at least in some circles fairly commonplace and that the status of the artist must have been on the rise in Athens as well because this is one of the first examples of artwork that has been signed. The indication that Kleitias was the painter and Ergotimos was the potter also gives us a clue into the fact that there was a refined division of labor.

Context: This vase too was found in Italy and demonstrates the desire of Etruscans for goods from Greece. The writing on the vase shows the rise in literacy of a small elite group who could afford such luxury items and in fact the words are actually not who the characters are but rather what they are saying. According to Gardner’s “Art Through the Ages,” "Out of the lips of Achilles come the word tesara (four); Ajax calls out tria (three)."

Formal Analysis
The formal elements that make this vase important are that it’s in black figure style, it is more realistic, and it shows a bit of detail, sophistication, and craftsmanship in terms of the scraffito that is used on it.

In most Greek art there is a definite evolution in which they tend to value realism and naturalism over abstraction. In the earlier vase paintings we looked at things were much more abstract and also the anatomy was less realistic. Here we have much more realistic anatomy and probably even more of a storytelling element since there is writing on the vase. It’s also much less busy.
It’s possible that the use of the black figure style was an attempt to make a more sophisticated and realistic image. We certainly see it in the Orientalist periods in which some of the animals that are depicted as black figure are little bit more successful. It does simplify the creation of lines. Probably because it would be hard to see the glaze that was being painted on the natural read of the clay it was easier to etch in a design and to fill it in with black and scrape out the incised lines for detail. If you look closely at the shields and the ornamentation on the fabrics you can see a lot of detail and it’s executed in a very fine way.
The overall design of this vessel demonstrates an evolution form the earlier horror vacui style to a more naturalistic and roomy style. The entire vase is not taken up by a series of registers. Instead a single scene, symmetrically laid out, dominates the center of the amphora.
The figures are very naturalistically depicted with the exception of some distortions in anatomy and that the eyes on their profile faces are actually in a frontal view as in Egyptian art. The black figures' capes and clothing are complex delicately incised designs that were etched down into engobe glaze so that the red ground clay shows through. The incised designs of the cape depict some of the rosettes and design elements found in orientalized pottery. The engraving is supplemented by the addition of touches of white. Around and between the two figures are written words.
Iconography: The scene on the vase represents Ajax and Achilles, heroes from Homer's "Iliad," playing a game of dice. Their shields are near and they hold their spears suggesting each man is ready for action at a moment's notice. The depiction of heroes in armor is meant to reference the ideal of the heroic male in the same way that we decorate children's lunch boxes and dishes with real and imaginary heroes. Since the Greeks believed that men were created in the image of the gods. The ancient Greeks began to depict their art work more realistically because they wanted their heroes to be more godlike.
Here, myth and legend are combined. The myth of Perseus and the Gorgons is laid over the legends outlined in the "Iliad." The shields of the two characters contain a Gorgon like image that could be a reference to that myth and would also associate their prowess with the mythological Perseus. The shields then almost serve an apotropaic function.
This vase by Andokides shares the exact same iconography and story as the vase by Exkekias is above. What’s more important about this vase is the fact that it is called “bilingual.”

Formal Analysis
The term bilingual literally means speaking into tongues or languages. In this instance the artist made a different choice than the earlier artist Exekias. Andokides paints on one side of the vase black figure style and on the reverse side of the vase is the same scene but painted in what’s called red figure style.

Figure Ground Reversal
The term “figure ground reversal”is a phrase in which the background gets reversed with the foreground. The values or shading get reversed almost like a negative in a photograph. The way in which the artist paints this is to paint the background around the figures with the darker
glazes and paint the details with a fine brush. It’s an exact reverse of the black figure style. In
the red figure style the figure skin remains the natural color of the clay.

One of the things about pottery from the area around Athens is that it has a distinctive kind of color. In fact historians are able to identify the origins of some of the vases by the color of the unknown glazed portions. This is partially responsible for some of the different kinds of pottery making their way around the ancient world. For example, we studied Minoan art and there was a particular type of pottery called Kamares Ware c1500 BCE that was prized for its eggshell thin walls and it’s very colorful black orange and white designs.

The Andokides painter. 

Contextual Analysis
This vase is very important for art historians because it exhibits two different styles of painting on each side of it. It exhibits the black figure style on one side and the red figure style on the other.
The history or provenance of the vase is a little confusing because most people want to claim that the painting on the vase might have been done by the Potter named Andokides. In sixth century Greece it was common for there to be a division of labor between the Potter who made the vases and vessels on a Potter’s wheel and a Potter’s assistant who may have decorated the vase. We see that in several vases where there are actually signatures by both the Potter and the painter on the vase. In this case, this vase is not signed. The reason why people attribute it to the painter Andokides was because a historian in 1901 named Beazley made an attribution based on the similarity in the painting style to other vases with signatures by Andokides. The proof that this vase was painted and made by the same artist is not clear so the best we have are educated guesses.
This vase called the bilingual amphora is probably made by a Potter named Andokides and possibly painted by Andokides however, there are small differences in style, sort of like a handwriting in line quality, between each side. The lines and the way things are drawn look a little bit different on each side and this may suggest that another painter participated in making the decorations on the other side. We also don’t really know if Andokides hired a separate painter to be his painter and all he did was throw the vases and then hand them to decorators after he was done.
Other important contextual data about the Potter Andokides is that contemporary historians believe that it’s possible that the red figure type of pottery was born in his workshop. It’s also believed that Andokides was possibly the student of the Potter that we studied named Exekias.

Formal Analysis
This vase has two types of decoration on it. On one side it has a more traditional black figure style of decoration in which the figures skin is almost a silhouette that is filled in with black glaze. The reverse side of the vase uses what art is sometimes referred to as “figure ground reversal.”
Figure ground reversal is actually just a fancy way of saying the image becomes positive and negative and you can see slightly different things in it for example look at this diagram. Essentially, what the Andokides painter was able to do was make the skin color of the characters the red of the clay which makes a little bit more sense by painting all of the space around the figures with a darker glaze. However, this looks more realistic and became a favorite style when we get into the high classical age of ancient Greece. So the fact that there are red figures on one side and black figures on the other is an important detail. The fancy way of saying this is that the painter was bilingual, meaning he spoke to languages in terms of visual style the black figure and the red figure.
The next important formal elements concern the overall scene and its composition. On both sides of the vase there is a ovoid or rectangular-ish shape that defines a scene in the center of the amphora. This is a shift away from the horror vaccui that the earlier phases of pottery exhibited. Now there are some decorations that are on the handles and a leaf or organic design that helps to define the major scene in the center. Seated in the center of this “scene” are two men, on one side wearing the armor on the other side book ended by their armor and shields, playing a game on a low box. Both of the figures on either side are depicted in profile view and the anatomy of each is very realistic and fairly naturalistic in terms of proportion and shape although there are some suggestions of stylize in the forms of legs and feet geometrically. Sometimes the anatomy looks like it’s been reduced to geometric shapes. The faces are still fairly cartoonlike and the eyes, although the head is in profile appear to be in frontal view.
Horror vaccui is exhibited in the ornamentation of the clothing and the armor which has intricately carved or incised lines that describe different kinds of shapes for example flower patterns. This is called scraffito and is accomplished by taking a sharp metal needle or awl and incising intricate designs into the glaze probably before the pot has been fired.

Iconographic Analysis
The title that Beazley gave this pot is, “Ajax and Achilles playing a dice game.” Although a majority of vases depict the low in battle in which the two heroes from Homer’s “Iliad and Odyssey,” this could be just two soldiers playing a board game. However, the majority of scholars overwhelmingly describe the scene as specifically Ajax and Achilles playing a dice game because of its provenance in the Iliad. Since this is a reasonable assumption we can probably take the iconographic analysis a little bit more deeply and examine why there are so many depictions of soldiers and so many depictions of heroes from Homer’s famous books.

Most likely the depiction of heroes from Greek literature had a twofold purpose. In some ways the heroes on these vases are very similar to our depictions of people like George Washington crossing the Delaware or famous war monuments. They are part of the culture and they also depict the values of the culture that are most highly prized. In this case it’s a way of reinforcing the idea of establishing oneself through battle and through heroic acts. One of my professors, Herbert Broderick from Lehman College at City University of New York, suggested the idea of a cult of “death” or heroic death that is reinforced by depicting famous warriors. Almost like the Norse mythology that deals with falling in battle will bring you immediate entrance into Walhalla the Norse heaven.


Lapith and Centaur by the Foundry Painter c 490 BCE interior of an Attic red-figured kylix ( Red Figure Style) 

Formal Ideas
The evolution of vase painting is from highly stylized and abstract to realistic and naturalistic. The first vases are very diagrammatic and often just showed geometric shapes as they evolve in the Potter skills evolve they start to create more realistic looking images. These representations of centaurs and heroes show an evolution from black figured stylized figures to a fairly naturalistic profile and a foreshortened centaur in red figure style.  Foreshortening is when the limbs of a figure, such as the legs of the centaur, project out towards the viewer and appear to be shorter than they would when extended parallel to the viewer. The anatomy, line quality, and sophistication of the designs becomes more simplified and much clearer and realistic.

Iconographic Ideas (Shared Themes) The vases were looking at share a lot of the same stories and themes. In the proto- geometric period the vases are not representing anything realistic at all. However, in later periods we start seeing the portrayal of stories that are directly out of a main work of literature called the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. It also appears that the themes that run through the vases representing the stories are about heroes who are
smart and physically able. As the level of sophistication in terms of realism becomes to develop in the fifth century, especially with the use of the red figure style, the images become more realistic and more descriptive of specific scenes. They are able to even label the characters. A commonality between the Mycenaean world as well as the various periods in Greek phases of pottery the biggest theme seems to be of warriors on the vases.

hoplite n [Gk tool
weapon. fr.hepein to care a:t
--more a:t sepulchre] (ca. 1741): a
heavily anned infimtry soldier" of ancient Greece
Chigi Vase
Proto Corinthian c620

It's possible that the representation ofwaniors is a type of propagandist tool However, it still a popular theme that people willingly bought the same way we buy cups with superman on them. We've even learned about the skill of the warriors and the fact that they were hoplite.
Nevertheless, in the same way that there are a variety of themes on our dishes the ancient Greeks also included images of women engaged in other activities. For example a very popular theme in ancient Greek pottery was called “the mistress and made theme.”
Style of Achilles Painter, Woman and Maid Lekythos, (white ground style) c450BCE

In the earliest phases we have a lot of examples from the geometric phase of funerals, horses, and warriors. However, we have also just looked at vases that have playful animals and mythical creatures that might just be for decoration.

Geometric, Orientalizing and Archaic Greek Sculpture and Architecture
Form: The creature is a composite of a horse and human referred to as a centaur. Stokstad comments that this work exemplifies the Proto-Geometric style because the body and forms painted, in slip, on this sculpture are geometricized. Some of the overall geometric shapes are further broken down into cross hatched designs. The face as well as the limbs while recognizable are still not very naturalistic. The sculpture was made on a potter's wheel and the body and limbs are hollow.

Context: This sculpture was found broken in two and placed in adjacent graves. This may indicate that the duality of the centaur's nature may represent or have something to do with the development of Greek ideas concerning duality and symmetry.
Iconography: Images of the centaur are almost always associated with the story of the Lapith's battle with the Centaurs or centauromachy ( a battle between centaurs and humans). The Lapiths and and centaurs do battle after a wedding celebration. The centaurs, drunk after the celebration become unruly, and attempt to rape (in this case it means sexually and to abduct or steal them) the young boys and young girls. Apollo stops the battle and sends the centaurs home.

Overall the mythological scenes on this vase are designed to instruct or indoctrinate the viewer into the ideologies and behaviors symbolized in the tales. More specifically, the centauromachy, whose main antagonists are half- man half-beast, represent the struggle against man's bestial nature.