How abstract art began with Greek sculpture

This abstract art post outlines the influence of Greek Sculpture upon the very early development of abstract thinking.

Abstract art can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greek society when people sought images more real than real. Egyptian sculpture wasn’t enough for the Greeks.

Greek sculptors were the first artists who strived to reproduce the human body perfectly. Just as it looks. It became a race over generations to depict the human form as realistically as possible.

Then came the breakthrough.

‘Kritian Boy’ was created around 480BC in Ancient Greece

Around 480 BC ‘ Kritian Boy ’ was a milestone in the history of art.

Finally, the Greeks had a life like sculpture of man. Exactly what Ancient society craved. Some modern critics say it was, ‘the first beautiful nude in art’.

Art as the perfect imitation of life.

Surprisingly, once the challenge had been achieved, no longer did Greeks desire realistic sculptures. Instead, artists began to exaggerate and manipulate form to express feeling. They wanted to distort real life and make it suitable for themselves.

This signalled subtle beginnings of abstract art in Ancient Greece.

The people wanted something more human than human. Reality exaggerated or distorted. Just like abstract artists achieve today.

Hardwired into the brains of human beings is the need to create interest, to improve upon the real world and produce something different to everyday life. A growing dissatisfaction with reality in Ancient Greece, saw Kritian Boy now too realistic.

The sculpture of Kritian Boy was now even considered to be boring.

The Greeks wanted sculptures to have an overwhelming presence. A distortion or subtle abstraction to the human form.

They’d hoped to enhance their concept of beauty. Or at least what people in Ancient Greece thought to be beautiful at the time.

The video below is a short 10 minute clip about how ancient cultures had the beginnings of abstract art hardwired into their thinking.

About Simon Brushfield

Simon Brushfield is an artist whose work has been described as ‘poetic, enigmatic and dreamlike’ (Michael Berry, "Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia" book). His paintings have been exhibited and sold across Australia and internationally. If you enjoyed this post, sign up to Simons VIP list and have posts sent directly to your inbox.

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