Home Forums Progression or regression? Progression or regression?

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    • #5768
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

       Some people claim that Hellenistic art was a progression of Greek humanist values while others see it as a regression. Where do you weigh in on this issue? Can you see both sides of the argument?

       

    • #6867
      Maggie May
      Participant

      I can see the argument both sides of the argument, but I personally fall more to the side of believing that Hellenistic Art is a progression of humanistic ideals, not a regression. When considering this, I thought most frequently of the statue of the Old Woman, who was not portrayed formally, but more realistically, with a dramatic facial expression. We see realistic children, older people, and babies depicted in the art of this time. We also see gods depicted in more casual, human-like settings and activities, like playing dice. This leads me to believe that Hellenistic art displayed a shift from the idealized, unobtainable god-like aspects of art past to art more focused on realistic human existence. I believe what we create as art displays what we value and what is most important to us, so it would follow that Hellenistic art displays a shift towards humanism.

      • #6963
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Maggie – Yes! I completely agree with you that the Hellenistic art is more of a progression towards humanist values. The focus on realism and humans caught in serene and highly emotional moments gives such a great perspective on the human range of emotions. I do not necessarily see why Hellenistic art would be seen as regression, maybe this is because it is shifting focus away from the gods toward humans, and this can be seen as “loosing” focus according to religious ones.

        • #7025
          Dean Riley
          Participant

          I agree Miranda that I could not understand how it could be viewed as a regression either in the terms of humanistic values. It appears to me that the Hellenistic culture was progressing closer to humanistic values and not away from it.

      • #7018
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        I agree. Beauty is not just found in perfection, sometimes imperfection holds a kind of beauty perfection can never attain. I also agree that people do tend to preserve the things they value and life, in all its forms, is certainly worth preserving.

    • #6940
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Maggie, I was totally thinking along the same lines as you. I think it is progression to show the shift toward humanism and the importance of the individual, instead of many displays seen in previous art of the gods, or strictly of royalty. I think it was a very important step in art history, this changed the focus off the, as you said, unobtainable god-like aspects, to the human side, more of an image you would see in daily life- the old woman is a great example.

    • #6941
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      While I could see both sides of the argument, I guess it could depend on your personal values and what you think makes art progressive. In my opinion I see the Hellenistic period as very progressive. It takes the some of the amazing perfect proportions, and details of the human body that were so popular in the classical period and then applies those tools to make more realistic, relatable art. The Hellenistic period artworks show more emotion than most of the previous pieces we have looked at. The Laocoon for example, shows the precise details that went into defining the muscles on the figures, but unique to the Hellenistic period, shows so much emotion, the contorted face and body show “immense physical and emotional distress” which is an aspect I see as progressive. I mentioned this in my other post, but again the art from this period seems to show more movement. I absolutely see the art from this period as progressive.

      • #6959
        Laura Barber
        Participant

        Re: Kaitlyn
        I definitely agree with you! The art in this period advanced humanism in many ways. Your argument was rather different than mine though, so thank you for pointing out some alternative reasons for this advancement. They did increase focus on humans through the improved portrayal of the human body and showing a wider range of emotions and body movements. They also portrayed more humans than gods, compared to past periods.

      • #6964
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Kaitlyn – I agree that seeing what is progressive or regressive is highly subjective, and it is hard to determine a certain rule for the way that the art had shifted. The Hellenistic era did bring art that was different from Ancient Greek art, but I would not say that it was a regression. Like you, I think it was more progressive.

      • #6989
        Aalieyah Creach
        Participant

        Kaitlyn,
        I agree the Hellenistic period was immensely more detailed of that of the human body than it was in the classical period. The emotion was captured so well its almost like a picture perfect moment except with sculptures. The Laocoon’s details to the face made it to were it was as if you can really understand and see what they could have been going through at the time. It makes it easier to relate the humanistic appeal to the piece when there is so much emotion being depicted withing the art. Amazing job!

    • #6946
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      While I can see both sides of this argument, I personally think Hellenistic Art added to the progression of humanistic values. While in previous Greek culture, the representation of the human body was generally flawless, somewhat generic, and little emotion was portrayed, in Hellenistic art we see artist taking care to represent humans in far more relatable and accurate ways. Bodies were still beautiful, but they were a bit less ideal, and certainly far more ‘human’ esc. So in a way, the idea of what ‘humanism’ was could have shifted. People were no longer represented in a godlike fashion, but their true humanity was being displayed and celebrated. Figures were less stoic and far more emotional. The acceptance and celebration of the less picture perfect parts of being human were beginning to be celebrated. That is certainly development in humanism if you ask me. If we are to remove the difficulty, struggle, and emotion that comes with being apart of humanity, we deny a massive chunk of ‘who we are’. By embracing the flaws and struggles of humanity, a deeper love and appreciation for it can develop, and this is what we see in Hellenistic art.

      • #6975
        Lucas Warthen
        Participant

        Hey Aubri,

        I think you’re right that Hellenistic art added to the progression of humanistic values. The movement of extremely ideal figures to more realistic and, how you put it, human-esc was very important and the highlight of the times. Additionally, the inclusion of the flaws and struggles of humanity is important also, and the fact that Hellenistic art attempted to capture this (and did at some points) is also a very strong contender of the idea of progression of humanistic values (rather the the regression). Great points!

      • #7019
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        Aubri, I agree with you. The Humanistic movement evolved from the Greek Classical and allowed artist and society to broaden their subject matter. They were no longer bound to nobility and the gods and goddesses but could begin expressing the values and images of individuals.

        I think it is the struggle and trials and tribulations that make us human. To depict these events in art captures them as accurate representations for future generations. The one struggle I have with this progression is the fact that gods and goddesses still appear in various scenes. This might be the regressive portion of the Hellenistic movement.

    • #6958
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      Hellenistic art began to move away from the classical period and create art of normal people, thus signaling a progression of Greek humanist values. They placed more emphasis on regular humans rather than gods and goddesses. For instance, The Old Woman is not art of a beautiful young maiden or goddess, but rather of an old woman with wrinkles and imperfections.
      On the other hand, I understand how the period could be seen as a regression of these humanist values. There is still an abundance of artwork portraying gods and goddesses, and although some of them are displayed in more artistically complex poses, this only furthers their image as superior beings to humans. Laocoön and His Sons presents a struggle between man and a vicious snake, but that man is still a priest, a servant to the gods. This further elevates the gods, rather than emphasizing the importance of humans.
      Both sides have valid arguments, but I still see how the period had progressed humanism further, despite not completely moving away from the culture’s religious roots.

    • #6965
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      Personally, I think that Hellenistic art had a very progressive take on Greek humanist values. In earlier artwork we have seen a lot of focus on the gods and the human place in relation to creation and the gods. In Hellenistic art, there seems to be more focus on humans in relation to humans. With this I mean that we see more focus on various components of humans, such as moments of serenity or moments filled with strong emotions. In short, there seems to be more focus on the range of human emotions. For example, we have the sleeping cherub, which seems so lifelike and realistic. It is almost as if it was depicting an actual child. Then we have the Laocoon, that have strong emotions of fear and desperation. These emotions are so vivid, which I would think is highly progressive towards humanist values.

      The only reason I would think that Hellenistic are can be seen as regressive is that there is less focus on the gods or nature. Maybe there are humanist values that focus on what a human is in relation to nature or spirituality, and choosing not to focus on this can be seen as different. Religion often gives humans a purpose, and choosing not to focus on the human value according to religion can be seen as taking the purpose away from humans. I could see how this would be an opinion of regression.

      • #6997
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Miranda, I agree that the more vivid emotions on the Hellenistic artwork are a huge plus for the progression. However, I feel like the lack of focus on the gods and nature also contribute more towards the progression of humanist values rather than the regression. Your explanation on how it could be an argument for the regression is great though!

    • #6970
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      I see the Hellenistic period of art as more of a broadening and deepening of the idealistic creations of the Greek Classical period. Two examples come to mind. The first is the statue of The Old Woman. The artist’s initial intent has been lost over time. We are not certain if she is a zealot of Dionysus, ravaged by the years of devotion to drink and pleasure or is she simply an image of an elderly woman. My point is that she is neither a god nor a noble but instead is a depiction of a member of their society. There is now art that depicts everyday life. A progression in the subject matter at the very least.
      The Venus de Milo is another example of the transition from Classic Greek to a Hellenistic creation. The statue carries the grandeur of the Classical Greek form yet it has been improved upon. Venus de Milo has a spiral stance the enhances the realism of the image. The draping of her clothes builds expectation and excitement. Overall, I think there was a definite progression to a new art form called Hellenistic that we both admire and copy to this day.

    • #6972
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      Though I can see both sides of the argument, I think that Hellenistic art was a progression of humanist values. A lot of past images / paintings / sculptures (or any forms of art, really) were angled toward presenting an ideal human image. While Hellenistic art still did this in some of its works, some of it actively worked away from the age old idea. Nike of Samothrace and Sleeping Eros are good examples of moving away from this image (even though they are both divine figures). And, even though it is not a traditional piece of art, the Theater at Epidauros is something that is still used and stands today. Not only that, but its format is something that is seen and any and all theaters for the performing arts.

      • #6998
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Lucas, the Theater at Epidauros is a great example. Even though it was associated with some of their gods, it was still a piece to be used and enjoyed by everyone. It can be used to bring happiness to people today just as it could back then even without the religious associations.

    • #6976
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      I can understand the division of this argument. However, I see Hellenistic art as more of a progression of humanist values. The manner in which people are shown is more realistic, not only in their appearance but also in their positioning. “Sleeping Eros’ and “The Old Woman’ both show a snapshot of daily life instead of a stiff, idealized pose. Also, even though there are representations of gods, they are fewer than earlier periods we have studied and more of people in everyday life. The fact that body types are less idealized also supports a progression in humanism as well as moving away from the archaic smile and more towards true emotion.

      • #6985
        ckocsis
        Participant

        Tamara- I completely agree! I think the way artists portrayed realistic people from everyday life is taking a humanism a step further by recognizing the greatness all people, not just the idealized ones!

    • #6981
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      RE Bob

      I really love that first sentence! How beautifully put! The Hellenistic period really did deepen and broaden our understanding of humanism in the arts! There is certainly a progression in the story line being portrayed in the arts. In the classical period we didn’t see nearly as much realistic human emotion within art, but that expression becomes far more prevalent in the Hellenistic period.

      Awesome post!

    • #6988
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      In my opinion I feel that both sides of the arguments can be seen as progression in the Hellenistic art era. Compared to most of the work in the Ancient Greek period we start to see more details and and facial features as well as the meaning behind the creation of the piece. For example the, ‘Sleeping Eros’ sculpture is of a young boy sleeping. They gave the some information about how he was a companion of Venus he became known as cupid because he could be both young and beautiful. You see that in the sculpture of the Sleeping Eros because when you look at it they were able to capture the humanistic features of what could be seen as a beautiful young boy. Even though he had wings and that could be seen as supernatural it still weighed more on the realism of the boy and the structure of his face and body in my opinion. Not to mention the calm feeling you get as you see him laying there peacefully sleeping.

    • #6996
      tmbergan
      Participant

      Although they do still have pieces for their gods and goddesses, I feel like the Hellenistic art was a progression of the Greek humanist values. Rather than having their deities placed above them, the Greeks started to show them in more human ways as they played games like dice and equated them more than just strong youthful figures — the Sleeping Eros shows a god in an entirely different light then they were generally shown. He’s portrayed as a cherub rather than a man like previous gods would have been. In the Hellenistic art, they equated their deities with humans, placed more emphasis on a more realistic human body with normal proportions, and allowed their sculptures to show a larger range of human emotions, as we saw in the Laocoon, rather than keeping their expressions vague with the archaic smile. To me, these all appear to be progressive as they really emphasized genuine humans.

    • #6999
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      With any human action, there can be positive and negative result. I see both progression and regression in Hellenistic art influencing the Greeks humanist values. ‘The Laocoon and His Sons’ display true human emotions that emerged through the Hellenistic art style. During this period art became more specialized leading to standardization which could be considered as regression. On the other hand pieces became more complex, moving from ‘Archaic smiles’ to stronger depictions of human emotions. To the Greek culture, humanist values recognizes all behavior and emotions acted out by people. Hellenistic art should be considered with both pros and cons such as progression and regression, but neither should be overlooked.

      • #7020
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        I like how you gave examples of both sides. In a way I think you are right that it could go either way; Progression or Regression. I think depending on what you value not just in art, but also in life will affect which way you lean towards.

    • #7002
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      I can see how people would view the Hellenistic art as a regression of greek humanist values– although the bodies depicted are more organic and varied than the periods before, they are still idealized and portrayed to show the beauty the human body. I think it is a progression myself, because of that variation of depicting babies as well as elders. It shows different aspects of humanity, young age to old age, fear/agony and solitude. I think it is more realistic, even if the bodies that are not children/old are idealized. Humanism focuses on the rationality of humans instead of likening themselves as perfect deities, and in a way the Hellenistic period supports this ideals, lowering the likeness of the gods to human forms. The complexity of it is the most engaging part.

      • #7007
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To Jessi Willeto
        I thought your examples of how the Hellenistic art represents human nature and their emotions was great. Do you think there were factors that played into the Greeks developing this humanist believe, if so what are they? I believe, possibly, that the Greeks dealing with conflicts from other cultures and/or natural disasters could have influenced this ideological belief system. As civilizations become more complex and state like, they usually invest more energy into themselves vs their deities. Great ideas!

    • #7003
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Miranda Jackovich
      Oh, that is true that the art became more specialized. I didn’t think of it that way. But in the end I agree. The high complexity of emotions displayed in Hellenistic art can show us the pros of the period more so than the cons.

    • #7004
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Tmbergan
      Exactly! They lowered the pedestal of the Gods to more relatable human ways such as playfulness or agony. This makes the gods more relatable and more human, which I think serves the purpose of humanism.

    • #7005
      ckocsis
      Participant

      I definitely think Hellenistic art was a progression of Humanist values. The art of the Hellenistic period included all different kinds of people, not just the idealized figure that greek art had in the past. This is a progression of humanist values because it celebrates all aspects of humanity in the same way the ideal human had been celebrated in the past, which is taking the humanist beliefs that humanity is powerful and that humans are inherently good to a new level.

      • #7051
        Raven Shaw
        Participant

        I agree that their art was a celebration of humanity. Especially in that they moved away from the stiff form of Egyptian style art and into a more fluid form specific to Greek culture – and then allowed in some outside influences such as the barbarian warriors. The idea that humans are inherently good may have bit them in the butt at some point, but it was arguable a necessary step in human progression.

    • #7008
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      I have seen that many people say that they can see both sides of the debate whether Hellenistic art was a progression or regression of humanist values. I must say that I have no problems finding weight to support why Hellenistic art was a progression of humanist values, but can not find anything to support how it was a regression. During the Hellenistic period, the artists started using more “non-traditional” subject matter such babies and the elderly. They also started showing emotions in their art which was very rare before this period. Instead of elevating man to the gods level, they began giving the gods more human characteristics.

      • #7043
        Valene
        Participant

        Re: Dean
        To reply to your comment about not seeing how people are seeing the regression side of the argument I thought I would share what I saw. I felt like humanism is supposed to be based in man and everything centering around him. Since there are still gods being shown in this art I could see that as a regression to old ways of the gods being the most important part of life. I do see everyone point on it being a progression as well though.

    • #7009
      elkingkade
      Participant

      Although this has been already stated multiple times I also agree that the Hellenistic art was a progression. This can be seen in The Old Women, Sleeping Eros, and The Nike of Samothrace. The art of the Hellenistic portrayed real life more and this is a definite progression in my opinion.
      @ Ckocsis I like your point of how this progression celebrated all aspects of humanity. That was a great way to prove your point.

    • #7012
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      I can see each side of this argument and understand where both side are coming from. However in my opinion I would have to say that Hellenistic is has more of a progression than anything. With the different sculptures and painting during the Hellenistic period you can see that they wanted art to look more real life. Take a look that the “Old Woman” and the “Sleeping Eros”. These two sculptures has much more detail as what a human of that era looks like. Its nature of art is not looking like the eras before nor is it have a less development state. So yes I would say that the Hellenistic Period was more of a progression than anything else.

    • #7013
      Allie Eby
      Participant

      While Hellenistic art portrayed more emotion than works from previous eras, and I do see both sides of the argument, I personally do not think that this necessarily counts as progression. I feel that in some ways, Hellenistic art regressed from Humanist ideas. The idea of humanism relied heavily on the fact that mankind did not need the gods, but art of the Hellenistic period seemed to portray the gods, their actions, or the consequences of their actions much more frequently. Statues from earlier periods generally tended to show warriors and soldiers in prime states of fitness, showing off their individual achievements and potential, with far less focus on their connections to the pantheon. The gods being more humanized in later periods is Humanist, but I would still call it an overall regression when compared to the sum total of Humanist ideals portrayed in earlier periods.

    • #7017
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      I can see how Hellenistic period art could be seen as a regression given the move from “human ideal’ to a deeper portrayal of human existence. I think it all depends on your perspective of the world and your definition of beauty. I think the Hellenistic art is a progression of Greek art because it moved from being based only on outward, physical beauty to deep human emotion. Personally, when it comes to art I find the most moving and soulful pieces are those that depict pain; whether it be a song, a photo, or a sculpture. This definitely holds true when viewing art from the Hellenistic period.

    • #7027
      Valene
      Participant

      If you consider that the gods are no longer being idolized as perfect figures who are only young and fit as shown in the Hellenistic art period than there is a clear progression of more human qualities being shown. However, this same progression could also be viewed as a regression as there are still gods being used in the art and the nature of Humanist values is relying on the human and not the god. So, continuing to have gods in one’s work is also seen as regression. I can really see both sides of this issue. I think Greek humanist values relied on human beings the center of the world instead of any god, so in that train of thought I would say the Hellenistic art is a regression as there are still clearly gods used throughout their art.

      • #7039
        Lacey Miller
        Participant

        Valene- I very much agree. It is nice to see those gods in a more relatable human form though.

      • #7048
        Allie Eby
        Participant

        Hi Valene, I generally agree with you. However, do you think this comes down to our definition of Humanism being somewhat nebulous? Later humanist ideals involve an emphasis on rationalism, but had little to do with religion, both its presence or absence. What are your thoughts?

    • #7032
      Jess
      Participant

      They seem to include both aspects in that time. In the Dying Gallic trumpeter statue, they celebrate the bravery and glory of a warrior in his last mortal stand. The detail and thought they put into it portrays their mentality of the struggle of man and the greatness they can achieve. Even in death man can be celebrated and almost become immortalized and God-like. In another sense, the sculpture of The Sleeping Eros signifies their root belief system of Gods having an impact on mankind. It tells a story of a being that has the power to drive and manipulate mortals into love, passion, and grace. I believe they were progressing towards humanist values yet still remembering the traditions.

      • #7045
        Tamara Toy
        Participant

        Jess, I really like your points about man being elevated to an almost god-like perception. I tend to think more that the gods were brought down to a less elevated status, so I think your point about this is interesting and something to think about, that this movement in depicting this relationship between men and gods worked on both sides.

    • #7035
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      I understand both arguments, however I believe the Hellenistic art was a progression of Greek values rather than a regression. The Greek had beautiful precise sculptures of the human form, which was an important aspect of their art during these period. However, I believe the Hellenistic art started to progress into more of a realistic view of the human form. In Hellenistic art, emotions and expression started to make their way into their art which I believe is a clear example of progression in art over time. We see a shift from the sculptures of muscles and powerful images of men to a shift of facial expressions and images of children, women, middle aged men and women, and even older individuals. The Hellenistic is the first of the arts which starts to insert emotion and facial expressions so I think it’s strong to say Hellenistic art was a progression of Greek values.

      • #7056
        Kaylyn Kelly
        Participant

        RE: sjsaccomen
        Hey Sammi,
        Your reply was full of good information and was a well-written post. I also believe that the Hellenistic era was a progressive period and not a regressive period. Great post!

    • #7038
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      I definitely feel that Hellenistic art was a progression of humanism. Though they still portrayed gods as superior, they made the gods more human-like, in figure, size, and expression. I can see both sides but tend to believe it was more so progression.

    • #7050
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      Their focus on erotic human beauty might be seen as objectifying the self, but I think it is more likely valuing the self. The movement from awkward Godly ideals to individual human beauty may be indicative of a shift from a somewhat socialized state to the capitalism that bloomed from trade interaction with other cultures. Classical Greek art was commissioned by the State, so had fairly generic themes in comparison to Hellenistic art, which was more varied I believe because citizens who accrued wealth were able to commission what they wanted. Also individual artists became famous — a sign of humanism — and had more leeway to do the projects they wanted.

      The nude statues of women could be seen as objectification, but I think it is a sign of women’s rise to political equality with men, and that they no longer needed to be protected as precious possessions (swaddled). The male form was free to be ogled, why not the female? When Alexander the Great was off conquering, his mom Olympias ran the court of Macedonia. Women started going after political positions through their sons and husbands, their legal and economic responsibilities increased, and they were recognized with honors for their work. Where in the Classical period women had citizenship loosely through their husbands, Hellenistic women were granted citizenship for their works. They also gained control over slaves and property, and were responsible for their own debts. Women entered the sports world through horse racing and foot races. They had access to education, and became writers, philosophers, and poets — Errina of Talos, who wrote Distaff is an example: https://www.attalus.org/poetry/erinna.html . There isn’t a lot of art in the Hellenistic Period wing that shows this change, but the body language in the Nike of Samothrace does pretty well — striding forward, strong and feminine.

      I don’t believe it was a period of regression — it was a period of gaining personal power through commerce, and the recognition that women could be able to add to society. Countries that offer equal opportunity to women and allow free trade treat their citizens as individuals, and give them the freedom to pursue happiness.

    • #7055
      Kaylyn Kelly
      Participant

      I can see both of the sides of the argument when talking about the Hellenistic era. It can either be progressive or it can be regressive. The opinion can be up to any individual though. It is how your perspective is whether it be positive or negative. I believe Hellenistic art to be progressive though instead of regressive. This greek art focused on a more realistic image of the human form. Babies, children, older women, older men, and a lot of gods were in the prime focus of the era. These statues took on a very relaxed and realistic form and also the way the statues were positioned was relaxed and casual. It focused on more day to day things. This was a shift from older Greek art and a shift into a new era which started to move away from looking like a god and having no imperfections. The Hellenistic era focused on humans as a whole, our imperfections, and also portrayed us in a relaxed manner portraying our real lives.

    • #7245
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      Some people claim that Hellenistic art was a progression of Greek humanist values while others see it as a regression. Where do you weigh in on this issue? Can you see both sides of the argument?

      I am going to side with progression, Wikipedia states that “Hellenistic art seeks to represent the character of it’s subject.” Exaggerated emotions and themes such as sleeping or old age were both characteristics of Hellenistic art. Hellenistic art I noticed is often referred to with the more modern term of Baroque.
      The only argument I could find for regression was from Pliny the Elder, he was a philosopher and commander, he felt that sculpture declined significantly after Olympiad 121. According to Pliny there was a brief revival but sculpture never returned to previous standards.

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