Geometric art is a phase of Greek art, characterized largely by geometric motifs in vase painting, that flourished towards the end of the Greek Dark Ages, c. 900–700 BC. Its center was in Athens, and from there the style spread among the trading cities of the Aegean.  The Greek Dark Ages lasted from c. 1100 to 750 BC and include two periods, the Protogeometric period and the Geometric period (or Geometric art), in reference to the characteristic pottery style.  The vases had various uses or purposes within Greek society, including, but not limited to, funerary vases and symposium vases.
Funerary vases not only depicted funerary scenes, but they also had practical purposes, either holding the ashes or being used as grave markers.  Relatives of the deceased conducted burial rituals that included three parts: the prothesis (laying out of the body), the ekphora (funeral procession), and the interment of the body or cremated remains of the body.
To the Greeks, an omission of a proper burial was an insult to proper dignity.  The mythological context of a proper burial relates to the Greeks' belief in a continued existence in the underworld that will disallow the dead to maintain peace in the absence of a proper burial ritual.
Aside from its funerary use, the Greeks also utilized various vessels during symposiums. The Greek symposium was a social gathering that only aristocratic males were allowed to attend.  Vessels, such as wine coolers, jugs, various drinking cups, and mixing vessels, were decorated with Greek, geometric scenes. Some of the scenes depicted drinking parties or Dionysus and his followers.  The symposia would be held in the "andron," which was a man's only room.  The only women allowed into this room were called "hetaera," or female sex-workers who required payment from their regular, male companions. 
During the Protogeometric period (1030–900 BC),  the shapes of the vessels have eliminated the fluid nature of the Mycenaean; creating a more strict and simple design. There are horizontal, decorative bands that feature geometric shapes, including, but not limited to, concentric circles or semicircles.  Technological developments caused a new relationship between ornament and structure; causing differing stylistic choice from its Mycenaean influences. The Protogeometric period did not yet feature human figures within its art, but horses were pictured during this time period. 
Common vase shapes of the period include amphorae with the handles on both the belly and the neck, hydriai (water jars), oinochoai (lit. wine jug), lekythoi, and skyphoi (stemless cups). 
In the Early Geometric period (900–850 BC), the height of the vessels had been increased, while the decoration is limited around the neck down to the middle of the body of the vessel. The remaining surface is covered by a thin layer of clay, which during the firing takes a dark, shiny, metallic color.  That was the period when the decorative theme of the meander was added to the pottery design, the most characteristic element of Geometric art.
During this period, a broader repertoire of vessel shapes was initiated. Specifically, amphorae were used to hold cremation ashes. The amphorae featured handles on the "neck/shoulder" for males, while they feature handles on the "belly" of the vase for women. 
By the Middle Geometric period (850–760 BC), the decorative zones appear multiplied due to the creation of a laced mesh, while the meander dominates and is placed in the most important area, in the metope, which is arranged between the handles.
Late Geometric period lasted from 750 to 700/650 BC.  While the technique from the Middle Geometric period was still continued at the beginning of the 8th century BC, some potters enriched again the decorative organization of the vases, stabilized the forms of the animals in the areas of the neck and the base of the vase, and introduced between the handles, the human form. The Late Geometric Period was marked by a 1.62 meter amphora that was made by the Dipylon painter at around 760-750 BC.  The vase was a grave marker to an aristocratic woman in the Dipylon cemetery.  This was the first phase of the Late Geometric period (760–700 BC), in which the great vessels of Dipylon ware placed on the graves as funeral monuments,  and represent with their height (often at a height of 1.50 m) and the perfection of their execution, the highest expression of the Greek Geometric art.
The focal point of the funerary vases (kraters) was now the body lying in state (prothesis) and the wail of the dead (Amphora in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens), carrying out to the grave with an honorary chariot race (Krater in the Athens National Archaeological Museum), and various other subjects thought to be related to similar descriptions of the Homeric epics.
People and animals are depicted geometrically in a dark glossy color, while the remaining vessel is covered by strict zones of meanders, crooked lines, circles, swastikas, in the same graphical concept. Later, the main tragic theme of the wail declined, the compositions eased, the geometric shapes have become more freely, and areas with animals, birds, scenes of shipwrecks, hunting scenes, themes from mythology or the Homeric epics led Geometric pottery into more naturalistic expressions. 
One of the characteristic examples of the Late Geometric style is an oldest surviving signed work of a Greek potter Aristonothos (or Aristonophos) (7th century BC). The vase was found at Cerveteri in Italy and illustrates the blinding of Polyphemus by Odysseus and his companions. From the mid-8th century BC, the closer contact between Greece and the East enriched the ceramic art with new subjects – such as lions, panthers, imaginary beings, rosettes, palmettes, lotus flowers etc. – that led to the Orientalizing Period style, in which the pottery style of Corinth distinguished.
The notion of narrative during this time period exists between the artist and the audience. The artist communicates with the viewer, but the viewer's interpretation can sometime be an inaccurate interpretation. Furthermore, multiple interpretations of a singular artwork can be created by the viewer. A combination of historical, mythological, and societal context is needed to interpret the stories told within Greek Geometric art. The artwork during the geometric period can be seen as "supplementary sources and illustrative materials for Greek mythology and Greek literature."  The scenes that are depicted within Greek Geometric art contain various interpretations through analysis of the depicted scenes. Art historians must decide if the stylistic choices that were made during this time period were for a specific reason or simply coincidental.
Vases in the Geometric style are characterized by several horizontal bands about the circumference covering the entire vase. Between these lines the geometric artist used a number of other decorative motifs such as the zigzag, the triangle, the meander and the swastika. Besides abstract elements, painters of this era introduced stylized depictions of humans and animals which marks a significant departure from the earlier Protogeometric style. Many of the surviving objects of this period are funerary objects, a particularly important class of which are the amphorae that acted as grave markers for aristocratic graves, principally the Dipylon Amphora by the Dipylon Master  who has been credited with a number of kraters and amphorae from the late geometric period. 
Linear designs were the principal motif used in this period. The meander pattern was often placed in bands and used to frame the now larger panels of decoration. The areas most used for decoration by potters on shapes such as the amphorae and lekythoi were the neck and belly, which not only offered the greatest liberty for decoration but also emphasized the taller dimensions of the vessels. 
The first human figures appeared around 770 BC on the handles of vases. The human forms are easily distinguished because they do not overlap with one another, making the painted black forms discernible from one another against the color of the clay body.  The male was depicted with a triangular torso, an ovoid head with a blob for a nose and long cylindrical thighs and calves. Female figures were also abstract. Their long hair was depicted as a series of lines, as were their breasts, which appeared as strokes under the armpit. 
Two techniques of this time period include red-figure pottery and black-figure pottery. The black figure pottery started around 700 BC, and it remained the dominant style until its successor, red figure pottery, was invented around 530 BC.  The switch from black figure pottery to red figure pottery was made due to the enhanced detail that red figured pottery allowed its artists.
|Geometric Greek Krater, Smarthistory.|
Ancient Greek pottery, due to its relative durability, comprises a large part of the archaeological record of ancient Greece, and since there is so much of it, it has exerted a disproportionately large influence on our understanding of Greek society. The shards of pots discarded or buried in the 1st millennium BC are still the best guide available to understand the customary life and mind of the ancient Greeks. There were several vessels produced locally for everyday and kitchen use, yet finer pottery from regions such as Attica was imported by other civilizations throughout the Mediterranean, such as the Etruscans in Italy. There were a multitude of specific regional varieties, such as the South Italian ancient Greek pottery.
Exekias was an ancient Greek vase painter and potter who was active in Athens between roughly 545 BC and 530 BC. Exekias worked mainly in the black-figure technique, which involved the painting of scenes using a clay slip that fired to black, with details created through incision. Exekias is regarded by art historians as an artistic visionary whose masterful use of incision and psychologically sensitive compositions mark him as one of the greatest of all Attic vase painters. The Andokides painter and the Lysippides Painter are thought to have been students of Exekias.
Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting.
A krater or crater was a large two-handled shape of vase in Ancient Greek pottery and metalwork, mostly used for the mixing of wine with water.
The Kleophon Painter is the name given to an anonymous Athenian vase painter in the red-figure style who flourished in the mid-to-late 5th century BC. He is thus named because one of the works attributed to him bears an inscription in praise of a youth named "Kleophon". He appears to have been originally from the workshop of Polygnotos, and in turn to have taught the so-called Dinos Painter. Three vases suggest a collaboration with the Achilles Painter, while a number of black-figure works have also been attributed to him by some scholars.
The hydria is a form of Greek pottery from between the late Geometric period and the Hellenistic period. The etymology of the word hydria was first noted when it was stamped on a hydria itself, its direct translation meaning ‘jug’.
Panathenaic amphorae were the amphorae, large ceramic vessels, that contained the olive oil given as prizes in the Panathenaic Games. Some were ten imperial gallons and 60–70 cm (24–28 in) high. This oil came from the sacred grove of Athena at Akademia. The amphorae which held it had the distinctive form of tight handles, narrow neck and feet, and they were decorated with consistent symbols, in a standard form using the black figure technique, and continued to be so, long after the black figure style had fallen out of fashion. Some Panathenaic amphorae depicted Athena Promachos, goddess of war, advancing between columns brandishing a spear and wearing the aegis, and next to her the inscription τῶν Ἀθήνηθεν ἄθλων "(one) of the prizes from Athens". On the back of the vase was a representation of the event for which it was an award. Sometimes roosters are depicted perched on top of the columns. The significance of the roosters remains a mystery. Later amphorae also had that year's archon's name written on it making finds of those vases archaeologically important.
The Protogeometric style is a style of Ancient Greek pottery led by Athens produced between roughly 1030 and 900 BCE, in the first period of the Greek Dark Ages. After the collapse of the Mycenaean-Minoan Palace culture and the ensuing Greek Dark Ages, the Protogeometric style emerged around the mid 11th century BCE as the first expression of a reviving civilization. Following on from the development of a faster potter's wheel, vases of this period are markedly more technically accomplished than earlier Dark Age examples. The decoration of these pots is restricted to purely abstract elements and very often includes broad horizontal bands about the neck and belly and concentric circles applied with compass and multiple brush. Many other simple motifs can be found, but unlike many pieces in the following Geometric style, typically much of the surface is left plain.
The Dipylon Master was an ancient Greek vase painter who was active from around 760–750 BC. He worked in Athens, where he and his workshop produced large funerary vessels for those interred in the Dipylon Gate cemetery, whence his name comes. His work belongs to the very late stage of the Geometric Style. His vases served as grave markers and libation receptacles for aristocratic graves and as such are decorated with a depiction of the prothesis scene representing the mourning of the deceased. Almost 50 vases have been attributed to the Dipylon Master and his workshop. Examples include the Dipylon Amphora in National Archaeological Museum, Athens, and the Elgin Amphora in the British Museum.
The pottery of ancient Greece has a long history and the form of Greek vase shapes has had a continuous evolution from Minoan pottery down to the Hellenistic period. As Gisela Richter puts it, the forms of these vases find their "happiest expression" in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, yet it has been possible to date vases thanks to the variation in a form’s shape over time, a fact particularly useful when dating unpainted or plain black-gloss ware.
Apulian vase painting was a regional style of South Italian vase painting from ancient Apulia. It comprises geometric pottery and red-figure pottery.
The Archaeological Museum of Eretria is a museum in Eretria, in the Euboea regional unit of Central Greece.
Ancient Greek art stands out among that of other ancient cultures for its development of naturalistic but idealized depictions of the human body, in which largely nude male figures were generally the focus of innovation. The rate of stylistic development between about 750 and 300 BC was remarkable by ancient standards, and in surviving works is best seen in sculpture. There were important innovations in painting, which have to be essentially reconstructed due to the lack of original survivals of quality, other than the distinct field of painted pottery.
The Nolan amphora is a variant style of the amphora jar, a common artifact of Greek and Roman pottery. Nolan amphorae are characterized by a neck that is longer and narrower than in traditional neck amphorae, along with ribbed handles or straps that join the piece at the base of the neck. They are named for the archaeological site at Nola, Italy, where an abundance of these vessels have been unearthed.
The theme of death within ancient Greek art has continued from the Early Bronze Age all the way through to the Hellenistic period. The Greeks used architecture, pottery, and funerary objects as different mediums through which to portray death. These depictions include mythical deaths, deaths of historical figures, and commemorations of those who died in war. This page includes various examples of the different types of mediums in which death is presented in Greek art.
Dipylon kraters are Geometric Period Greek terracotta funerary vases found at the Dipylon cemetery; near the Dipylon Gate, in Kerameikos. Kerameikos is known as the ancient potters quarter on the northwest side of the ancient city of Athens and translates to "the city of clay." A krater is a large Ancient Greek painted vase used to mix wine and water, but the large kraters at the Dipylon cemetery served as grave markers.
The Euphiletos Painter Panathenaic Amphora is a black-figure terracotta amphora from the Archaic Period depicting a running race, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was painted by the Euphiletos Painter as a victory prize for the Panathenaic Games in Athens in 530 BC.
The Kleophrades Panathenaic prize amphora is an Archaic period amphora by the Kleophrades Painter from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dating to c. 500 BCE, the amphora, filled with olive oil, was the prize for a victor in the Panathenaia games in Athens. This particular amphora is a neck amphora that stands at 63.5 centimetres (25.0 in) tall.
Ancient Greek funerary vases are decorative grave markers made in ancient Greece that were designed to resemble liquid-holding vessels. These decorated vases were placed on grave sites as a mark of elite status. There are many types of funerary vases, such as amphorae, kraters, oinochoe, and kylix cups, among others. One famous example is the Dipylon amphora. Every-day vases were often not painted, but wealthy Greeks could afford luxuriously painted ones. Funerary vases on male graves might have themes of military prowess, or athletics. However, allusions to death in Greek tragedies was a popular motif. Famous centers of vase styles include Corinth, Lakonia, Ionia, South Italy, and Athens.
The Dipylon Amphora is a large Ancient Greek painted vase, made around 750 BC, and is now held by the National Archaeological Museum, Athens. Discovered at the Dipylon cemetery, this stylistic vessel belonging to the Geometric period is credited to an unknown artist: the Dipylon Master. The amphora is covered entirely in ornamental and geometric patterns, as well as human figures and animal-filled motifs. It is also structurally precise, being that it is as tall as it is wide. These decorations use up every inch of space, and are painted on using the black-figure technique to create the silhouetted shapes. Inspiration for the Greek vase derived not only from its intended purpose as a funerary vessel, but also from artistic remnants of Mycenaean civilization prior to its collapse around 1100 BC. The Dipylon Amphora signifies the passing of an aristocratic woman, who is illustrated along with the procession of her funeral consisting of mourning family and friends situated along the belly of the vase. The woman's nobility and status is further emphasized by the plethora of detail and characterized animals, all which remain in bands circling the neck and belly of the amphora.
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