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Early Byzantine art changed from the art of the Romans in that it is interested in depicting things of mystery like heaven. The Greco-Roman interest was in depth and naturalism. Middle Byzantine period focused on building churches and decorating their interiors. There were also some noteworthy changes in the arts. There was the influence of the empire spread into the Slavic world with the Russian adoption of Orthodox Christianity in the tenth century and Byzantine art was consequently given new life in the Slavic areas.
Byzantine era art would have been considered sacrileges once Emperor Leo III said they should be removed. Much of the art included images of Christ, Mary and other spiritual images and saints. The iconoclasm tried to rectify the problem of the images by destroying them and causing a huge rift in the once unified church. This graven images conflict keeps becoming a problem for many of this faith and in turn much of the art from this time period is destroyed.
I agree that the Christian and Jewish cultures seem to care more about where and how they worshiped instead of building statutes of their gods to worship. I wonder how hard it was for people to convert to a new way of thinking when past religions were based so much on worship an image of a god.
Your right, I’ve heard that too except I think I read about it having to do with vanity too in some religions. Either way I find it sad not being to have any photos of something you have a strong faith in.
It is so interesting how you brought up that the way art was portrayed in these time periods likely influenced what the portrayal of Jesus was. I’ve read a couple articles abut how Jesus could have looked very different than the typical Sunday school images of him or the traditional church art pictures. Always interesting to see how pop culture plays into artistic interpretations.
In a move of strategic syncretism, the Early Christians adapted Roman motifs and gave new meanings to what had been pagan symbols. This can be seen in the Beit Alpha Synogue which shows the Zodiac symbol. The astrological signs were condemned by the prophets but were widely used as decorative elements in both churches and synagogues of the Byzantine period. It seems obvious that traditional views and past pagan views influenced the art of the new faith of Christianity.
Originally all images of holy people or references to Christian images was considered taboo. Jewish law forbade the use of images. According to the early Christian Sculpture article in our weekly readings “The early Christian dislike of images revived in the Byzantine Empire, and early in the eighth century the Emperor Leo III gave orders that all sculpture and all pictures in which figures appeared were to be removed from Christian churches, and plaster was to be spread over the mosaics. For over a century this rule was in force in the Byzantine Empire, and ‘iconoclasts’ smashed many carvings and destroyed many pictures. Finally the iconoclasts fell from power and the ban against the use of images was lifted. Mosaics and relief carvings appeared again.” It seems like society and people in power influenced greatly whether images were allowed or not. Early religious followers were strict and new generations realized that as long as the art was being respectful and accurate that it should be allowed.
For some reason my links didn’t post so I’m including them here.
Here is my final project. I chose to recreate the Bronze man and centaur from the Geometric time period in the mid-8th century. The original piece was made from bronze and I recreated it out of clay I use in my ceramics course. The original man and centaur were changed into two females and the fighting sculpture was changed into the women embracing. I thoroughly enjoyed this process and working with a new medium to recreate an ancient art sculpture.
You are right, in saying most societies use propaganda to help sway public support. Before we had modern printing options the only way to broadcast opinions was through art or speaking. Interesting how humans are so similar through the ages, we always try to sway people for power or influence.
Much of all art has been used as propaganda purposes. Whatever is happening in that time period’s culture seems to influence its art and in turn influence the viewers. The gods and their influence affected all in Roman culture and the people viewed their leaders as being given their power through divine appointments. Art then used the gods to show this divine connection and propaganda to follow and trust their leaders. As Zoe pointed out in the videos there was also Christian faith propaganda as shown through the Arch of Constantine and the Colossus of Constantine. Arches were often used to show the glories in war and to exalt the rulers.
I agree that Roman art is one of the biggest copied arts and I can see why. Their engineering style is very grand and monumental in their style and their marble sculptures are absolutely splendid. Amazing how culture from so long ago can still influence so many.
Modern government buildings are often in replica of ancient Roman architecture as are many houses who use similar style columns. Many government buildings are also made from marble too like Roman Empire architecture. The kind of engineering that was accomplished at such an ancient time is amazing and quite a feat. I can immediately think of two places I have visited where I can easily see the ancient Roman architecture. In Nashville, TN they have a huge replica of the Parthenon. And in Lake Havasu, AZ there is a famous bridge called the London Bridge that looks a lot like Pont du Gard made by the Roman Empire. Even in Fairbanks, the local Courthouse is I believe sided in marble and the federal building has columns and marble throughout.
I too, thought it was interesting to see the married couple and having them show any affection. I didn’t realize the Greeks didn’t like any affection though and wonder why the artists would show that if the society found it offensive. Maybe this particular artist was trying to think outside the box and go against societal norms just like we see in modern artists.
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.