Archaic (art)

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Kleobis and Biton . 7/6 Century BC Chr.

The archaic is a time and epoch in ancient Greece , the v the years 700-500. Includes. It is divided into three phases:

  • early archaic style 700–620 BC Chr.
  • highly archaic style 620–560 BC Chr.
  • late Archaic style 560–500 BC Chr.

The main focus of this style is on the figures. Decorative ornaments are deliberately shown small in order to make the figures appear monumental . The physicality of the represented figures increases both in painting and in sculpture ; the three-dimensional, expansive representation outweighs the flat. The characters are increasingly grouped into several, so that an epic narrative style in the representation of topics is possible. The themes are often taken from the epic - including the Iliad and the Odyssey - and the archaic art, especially vase painting , appears as a source for myths and myth variations alongside the written tradition.

Among the best-known works of art of the archaic era are the Kouroi , naked figures of young men, and the Koren, always dressed, as female counterparts.

Archaic figures like Kouroi and Koren are characterized by a rigid frontality . The bodies are conceived as blocks. They show schematically wavy hair and a summarily simplified musculature. Their facial features are also simplified and have a certain anonymity . The so-called " archaic smile ", which increasingly determines her facial expression, should be emphasized . The almond-shaped design of the eyes, which is particularly evident in the side profile on reliefs and coins, is also typical.

The archaic was followed by the Greek classical period . The transition period between the late archaic to the early classical period is called the Strict Style . The term archaic was adopted as an epoch designation in the periodization of general Greek history.

In coinage , the archaic style was occasionally used for representations even after the actual archaic period in order to emphasize the tradition and solidity of the coin . In the art of the late Hellenistic and late Republican times, archaic design methods were artificially and artistically taken up again. The style of such works of art is called "archaistic".


  • John Boardman : Greek sculpture. Archaic times: a manual. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1981, ISBN 3-8053-0346-7 .
  • Josef Floren : The Greek sculpture. Volume 1: The geometric and archaic sculpture (= handbook of archeology ). CH Beck, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-406-31718-9 .
  • Helmut Kyrieleis (ed.): Archaic and classical Greek sculpture. Files from the international colloquium from 22 to 25 April 1985 in Athens. Volume 1: Archaic Greek Sculpture. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1986.
  • Wolfram Martini : The archaic sculpture of the Greeks. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1990, ISBN 3-534-03175-X
  • Martin Stadler: Form-analytical investigations into archaic relief and free sculpture. Representation interests and design means. Tectum Verlag, Marburg 1999.