Geometric style

Style of vase painting that flourished in Athens с 1000–700 BC.

Vases decorated in this style feature horizontal bands filled with geometric patterns such as zigzags, triangles, and swastikas in dark paint on a light ground. The rhythmic effect is similar to that of basketry. The abstract motifs developed into stylized animal and human forms in such narrative scenes as funerals, dances, and boxing matches. Small bronze and clay figurines, elaborately decorated fibulas, and limestone seals were also produced. The patterns remained popular and influenced much later Greek art.

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▪ Greek art
      style of ancient Greek (Greek pottery) art, primarily of vase painting, that began about 900 BC and represents the last purely Mycenaean-Greek art form that originated before the influx of foreign inspiration by about 800 BC. Athens was its centre, and the growing moneyed population of new Greek cities was its market.

      Vases decorated in Geometric style exhibit painted horizontal bands filled with patterns, much like the vases of the preceding Proto-Geometric style. Geometric-style bands, however, are more numerous, covering the entire vase, with triple lines dividing patterned zones at regular intervals. The old Proto-Geometric design elements, the circle and arc, lost favour with the Geometric artist, while the zigzag and triangle remained and were incorporated along with some new elements, the meander and swastika. The overall visual effect of the regularly spaced horizontal bands filled with sharply angular patterns in dark paint upon light ground is one of undulating rhythm, closely akin to basketry.

      In addition to using abstract motifs, artists working in the Geometric style began using figures of humans and animals, seeing both as the sum of geometrized parts—bodies becoming triangles, legs and arms becoming line segments. First used just as patterns, they later developed into more complex groupings, usually narrative—funeral scenes, sea battles, dances, boxing matches, and exploits of popular heroes.

      Representative objects of this period include vases, small bronze and clay figurines, elaborately decorated safety-pin-like clasps, or fibulae, and limestone seals. Artisans also made gold bands impressed with animal and human figures, which were put on the head of a deceased person, often in a way that would keep the mouth closed. Although the Geometric style gave way to the Classical style, its patterns remained popular and influenced much later Grecian art.

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Universalium. 2010.

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