Painted attic pottery of the late archaic and early classical periods : a critical analysis of form, technique and aesthetics
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My thesis examines three aspects of the painted pottery produced in Athens during the late Archaic and early Classical period, approximately 550 through 450 B.C. My study is divided into three major parts. The first part examines and interprets ancient Greek pottery shapes and their stylistic development in general and Attic ware in particular. Various theories which claim to explain the evolutionary stages of Greek pottery shapes will be discussed and analyzed with special emphasis on the theory of dynamic symmetry as well as the controversial theory of modular design. An analysis of the pottery shapes will reveal an emphasis of the Greek pottery designer on bilateral symmetry and on the production of erect and top-heavy forms. The development of Attic pottery shapes will be compared to the development of the other art forms in ancient Greece, especially architecture, in an attempt to trace their common artistic motivations. The second part of my thesis deals with the techniques of Greek pottery in general and Attic pottery in particular. In actual fact, it is a study in detail of the complex techniques employed by the Attic potters in the production of their ware and its decoration. The procedures and tools involved in the creation of the ware will be outlined and described. A large section.of the second part of my thesis focuses on the chemistry of the Greek black glaze and the firing techniques used for its production, while the development of the black glaze will be traced in a short historical sketch. Emphasis will be placed, in this study, on the methods, procedures, and ingenious tools employed by the painters of Attic pottery, as these represent a unique contribution to ceramic art and technique. The final part of my thesis examines the aesthetic interaction between Attic pottery forms and Attic pottery painting. A general and formalized aesthetic analysis of Attic pottery painting will be included in this critical discussion. The works of certain pottery painters, and particularly the potter and painter Exekias, will be highlighted to illustrate the synergism of painted decoration and pottery form in the painted pottery of late Archaic and early Classical times in Attica. A few remarks of some significance will also be made on the later development of Attic pottery and the eventual degeneration and decline in the harmonious unity of pottery form and pottery painting.