In 480 BC Persians attacked Athens and destroyed of the Acropolis. When her citizens returned they decided not to rebuild the structures but instead to leave it the way it was as a reminder of the attack and as a memorial to all who served to fight against it. The rubble was buried and forgotten about until the 19th century when it was discovered and found to be very well preserved. The statues and marble work from the ruins were damaged and neglected by early excavation techniques and restoration is now being done to try to return the pieces to their original glory.
After the destruction of the Acropolis artists began to free themselves of the old style of representation that left people looking stiff and rigid. Most important of this time was the switch from having people stand with weight distributed equally on both legs to placing most of the weight on one leg. The switch created an entire shift in the body that created a more relaxed and natural look. This pose is called “contrapposto,” an Italian term that means counterpose.
Here you can see how the pose makes a difference. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Think about how long it took artists to make their sculptures look more natural. For thousands of years humans were presented as pleasant faced but completely stiff and hard as the stone they were carved out of. This more natural pose is what led to a great development in the art world toward creating images of more naturally realistic people.
As a result, today we may see sculptures and paintings of people in far more creative ways and in situations we can relate to.
Agnes Baillon, Untitled, 2010, Bronze, H45 x L26 W13cm
After leaving the Acropolis Museum and seeing more classical art and sculpture at the National Archaeology Museum, it was a much needed relief to see how the representation of the human form has evolved at Frissiras Museum. If you are a modern art lover then this place is a must see for you. It is a more modest space compared to the Acropolis Museum and the National Museum of Archaeology but none the less beautiful.
Filopoulou Maria, Swimmers, oil on canvas, 122 x 185 cm
Learn more about the National Museum of Archaeology in Athens here: www.namuseum.gr/index-en.html
See beautiful images of the very modern Acropolis museum here: www.theacropolismuseum.gr/