This week I decided to go to an exhibition I’d seen posters for around town – The Greeks: Agamemnon to Alexander the Great. I’m completely batty about Greek and Roman art, as it is the basis of Italian Renaissance art which I’m also mental over. It was a crazy busy holiday Monday that I decided to go, but I had just had an incredibly stressful morning and was in a lot of pain, so I figured a little artistic inspiration would help pick me up.
I bought a ticket for the museum and the IMAX movie about Greece (which was very good), and headed straight into the Greek special exhibition hall. Luckily that one was quieter than the rest of the museum that was filled with ridiculous amounts of kids (and their parents and chaperones). It was still busy, but I did manage to have a nice time. One thing that struck me was I was expecting to just kind of gloss over the earlier Greek art, but for some reason the patterns in the art hit a chord with me. I don’t know what it was, perhaps it was because it was so simple, but it was really striking to me how such simple shapes and patterns like chevrons, swirls, and stamped circles were incredibly beautiful. I’ve always been completely enamored with the Greek busts and sculptures, they are so elegant and lifelike. But it was the patterns I kept getting drawn back to. Unfortunately photos weren’t permitted at all of the exhibition (even without a flash), which made me sad as I wanted to get some unique angles and perspectives on some of the pieces that I could use as a starting point for my own art. I ended up purchasing the exhibition book – it was $80 and so heavy I could barely lift it (being as injured as I am), but something just told me I really needed to have that book as a reference. It’s very detailed about the history and about each piece (as much as is known), so I’m definitely not regretting buying it. I did try to draw some of the patterns onto a sketching app on my phone, but the lack of a stylus meant they ended up pretty much useless. Below are some images from the book (obviously the copyright for those photos belongs to the publisher, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports). You can see what I mean about such simple shapes creating such beauty. I also really liked the ancient Greek writing, it creates almost a haphazard pattern which I think is really beautiful.
Today I also received a great gift featuring patterns – a Quilt of Valour (pictured below) as part of my military release package. It’s lovely, it’s black and white mostly and the patterns of the fabric are really pretty together. I also adore the quilting, the texture of the swoops and swirls is really lovely. Again, the simple shapes are very beautiful to me and quite elegant, even though they are such simple shapes. I’ve always adored the more refined sculptures and pottery art as I felt they epitomized the elegance and aspirational nature of Greek art. But now I’m thinking the same can be expressed in patterns – it’s not as literal as a lovely statue of Aphrodite looking very beautiful, it’s a lot more subtle than that. I think the same message can be portrayed though, and I’m going to start doing some experimenting around using pattern in my designs and art and see what I can come up with.
What about you, do you prefer more “abstract” art like pattern work or do you like more self-explanatory pieces like life drawings and sculptures? Let me know in the comments below!
Hi Dana!! I enjoyed reading your blog about Greek art and what you are going to try to design. Myself, I’m a nature lover and love pictures of the outside environment. If you look at all the pictures I have hanging up in our house, it’s all nature. Funny that I’ve never really thought about it before you asked us but now that I look at everything, there is not one picture of a person/grandchild!! I love my grandkids and why I don’t have their pictures everywhere, I don’t know. Makes me feel like a bad grandma. Have fun with your new ideas and let us know how they turn out!!!
Thanks very much Suzanne, appreciate the comment. Yes it’s funny when you start noticing your habits and what surrounds you – I’m so drawn to figurative art that even the few landscapes I have done actually secretly hide women in the shapes of the mountains. I know there are many people like you that are just the opposite – they prefer landscapes. It’s all good either way, you can either go with it when creating new work or choosing what to do next, or try to break through your barriers and do something completely different. 🙂