What are the techniques and quality of naturalism in Greek pottery development?

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Greek pottery began to take on more of a naturalistic quality around the fifth century BC. For example, if we examine Athenian vases of the late Archaic period, we see examples of naturalistic techniques such as foreshortening and shading in the pictures on the vases. Both of these elements, along with increased attention to detail and silhouetting, aided in depicting human figures in motion. On the vases, we also see an increasingly heavy focus on storytelling. In other words, the pictures on the vases were used to develop and impart an actual narrative. Narratives ranged from mythological scenes and funerary rites to athletics, warfare, and depictions of daily life.

This seems to have been part of a general turn from geometric patterning to a more naturalistic style in Greek art in the Archaic period, beginning approximately in the seventh century BC. One example of this is the increased use of pictorial motifs, such as flower patterns, depictions of animal hunts, and various real and mythical animals and beings. We also see more naturalistic representations of the human figure, most often in large-scale sculptures. You should consider naturalism in Greek pottery, therefore, within this larger context of artistic change.

Along with the websites below, for further reading, I would recommend Richard T. Neer’s Style and Politics in Athenian Vase-Painting: The Craft of Democracy, ca. 530-470 B.C.E.

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The Greeks were humanists, which means that they believed that the thoughts and concerns of mankind should be society's principal worry; this belief system influenced everything in Greek society from how communities were established to how pottery was designed.

Greek pottery developed over many centuries and many different time phrases and periods including the Geometric Period (900–700 BC), the Corinthian Period (700–600 BC), the Archaic Period (750–480 BC), during which red figure pottery was created, and the Classic Period (480–300 BC), when black figure pottery was designed.

Early pottery featured fairly simple decorations, such as lines, shapes, and crude figures. It was during the Corinthian era that the first evidence of animals used as decorative forms was noted. Sometime around the beginning of the Archaic period, the first narrative scenes were depicted on Greek pottery.

Around 500 to 470 BC, there was a surge of creativity in Athens and an upswell in the quality of materials and production. Artists became adept at perspective foreshortening, which allows for more more realistic representation of bodies. Another change was the decision to focus on fewer subjects per vessel in order to demonstrate more representational detail per piece.

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