Ancient Greek culture was full of different types of art. Ancient Greeks decorated almost every part of their lives, from their buildings and city streets to the inside of their homes, many objects in Greek life were created with beauty in mind. Greek artists created masterpieces in painting, metal work, mosaic, sculpture, architecture, literature, and pottery.
Painting: Until recently, archaeologists only knew about Greek painting through ancient Greek stories. These stories, which were written by authors such as Pliny and Pausanias, describe large, monumental paintings. But unfortunately, not a lot of these paintings remain.
An ancient Greek living in 400 BC would be able to walk down the street and look at the beautiful paintings on the outside walls of buildings. But after thousands of years, war, earthquakes, weather, and time have worn down these paintings so that they no longer remain. Some Greek cities, such as Sikyon, were known for their schools, which taught painters and created many successful Greek artists, who then traveled the Western world, spreading their Greek art.
Archaeologists have recently begun excavating Macedonia, which is a part of Greece, and they have found well-preserved pieces of Greek paintings. Many painted tombs have been found, helping archaeologists to study Greek painting even better. Some of these paintings show scenes of warriors, women, animal hunts and scenes from mythological stories. Some of these paintings look a lot like Italian paintings, which has led some archaeologists to believe that Greek artists influenced Italian artists, who copied their painting styles.
Metalwork: Greeks were very skilled at working with metal, and they worked with many different types. Bronze is a special type of metal, which is mostly made up of copper, with another metal added, such as tin or zinc. Bronze is a hard and strong metal, and it was a very popular choice for statues and other decorations.
Greeks also used iron, which is a harder metal, as well as precious metals such as gold and silver. Even though there are many examples of beautiful metal work from ancient Greece, there used to be even more. Because metal can be melted down and made into something else, many metal sculptures and other metal items were melted down so they could be used for other things.
Besides bronze, gold, and silver sculptures, the Greeks made many things out of metals. Many of these things were beautifully decorated. They made bowls and vases, cauldrons, knives and daggers, shields, armor, decorative wreaths, drinking cups, and lanterns. They also made fine jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pins, and rings. Most of the decorations found on jewelry were flowers and leaves, mythical creatures, lions, and snakes.
Mosaic: Another one of the lasting artistic legacies from the ancient Greeks is the art of the mosaic. A mosaic is a picture made up of small pieces of glass, pottery, or small tiles. Thousands of small pieces of colored tiles are placed together so that all together they make up a picture.
Greeks decorated their houses with mosaics, both on the walls as well as on the floor. In Macedonia, archaeologists have found houses that have brightly painted walls and mosaic floors.
Ancient Greece had many other different types of accomplished artists. They were good at creating beautiful sculptures for religious worship and for decoration. They also created well-designed buildings, or architecture, which were decorated with sculptures, paintings, and mosaics.
Another more type of art they used on a daily basis was pottery, which they made into hundreds of different shapes, and painted with geometric patterns, and scenes from mythology. And last but not least, the Greeks also wrote many different types of literature, from poetry to history; they turned their writing into an art form.