Saturday, September 20, 2008

Roman Art & Architecture


How do the Romans compare to the Greeks in the art we studied?
Is there any evidence that art & architecture are evolving, "improving" from the Greeks to the Romans? Or is it simply chronology?
Please do remember that the textbook and (God forbid) your teachers have presented you a biased representation of Roman (and all) art in our selection of pieces to study as well as in our attitude toward the subject.

34 comments:

bballinsupasta said...

i think that the best thing about roman art was that many works appeared to the masses, rather than just the intellectuals. trajan's column is a prime example. i also like how the romans filled their public spaces like malls and bathhouses with great sculptures and paintings.

Dean Elazab said...

I think the roman's way of telling stories and history with statues and mass sculptures is really intriguing

tmichals said...

I like how Roman architecture served a practical use both structurally and socially and was not simply a pretty thing to look at.

tmichals said...

By the way... In the Imperial Family, I totally thought this whole time that the low relief symbolized "death" instead of "depth" which would be awesome. I'm really glad that Dean pointed out to me that I was wrong before I wrote that on the test.

El Paco said...

I think this is sort of similar to the "Hellenic Vs. Hellenistic" thread. I'm not sure you can really say that the Romans "improved" upon Greek art and architecture. Roman art and architecture are "better" by modern standards because they appeal more to our generation's aesthetic. The Romans, however, had the Greeks as a resource and were able to add their own philosophies, ideas, and mathematical principals to what the Greeks had already given them. The Greeks did the same with the Egyptians, and the Renaissance artists did the same with all others before them. So, essentially, I think it's all chronology.

Caroline said...

(Like Taylor) I love the practicality of the Roman architecture. Most of their work aimed to create meeting spaces/ forums and benefitted the public. This is very unlike the Greeks who mainly built structures to honor gods. Also, Taylor, I think it would have been really funny if you had wrote death instead of depth.

puddlewonderful said...

I love how the Romans blended the art from all the nations they conquered. Perhaps they were not original, for the most part, but they were able to really synthesize those different elements to create something original. And the grandeur of their architecture, especially, and the profundity of art at that time is really quite breathtaking and spectacular.

I find it telling that they invented portraiture, essentially. Theirs was a great era for the citizen, perhaps for a while greater than that of Greece, though there was not much democracy, it is true. Roman citizens enjoyed a great many rights (even if they could not vote) and their government provided a lot of services in addition-- as well as all that beautiful artwork. In many ways, because of their many public works, both of art and of engineering, life for a Roman citizen was greater than that for a Greek-- and that is something we must all take a moment to appreciate.

As for the question of chronology, what isn't chronology? And what isn't subjective? Whether art is better or worse is really a matter of pure opinion, and if any rational "improvement" can be said to be made from one culture to later culture it is probably due to chronology. If we inherit ideas from our predecessors and truly work with them, then we must "improve." And, as a general rule, because of the nature of such chronological improvement, we will often look back and think we have improved, simply because, chronologically, one form of art/aesthetic is closer to our present one than other. If a culture/art form has not "improved" (in our perspective), it has most likely failed to build upon elements of the previous one (instead casting those aside and working from nothing).

joel derby said...

I do believe that the Romans improved Greek architecture, both aesthetically and functionally. The invention of the arch and ,consequentially, the dome opened entire new worlds of possibilities. The new technology lead to wide open spaces and increased uses and styles for buildings. the Greeks never would have dreamed of creating an indoor open market like the basilica in Rome.

Also, The arch allowed Romans to create huge bridges and aqueducts. The Greeks only created large buildings as places of worship or palaces, but the Romans used their technology to create buildings for the greater good of the public.

Dean Elazab said...

The arch is a great improvement by the romans and allowed them to do a lot of functional art.(exists for Colosseum)

Caroline said...

I like how the Romans also include the cloumns in the colliseum even though they serve no functional purpose. It's a triblute to the Greek influence and the wisdom that the columns represent.

tmichals said...

I agree with Michelle in that the life of a Roman citizen was perhaps much more enjoyable than life today. And to go with what Andrew said... I don't think there is anything wrong with the Romans sharing in Greek ideas since they improved upon these ideas. Chronology is something that we can't escape.

stephen gieger said...

I think that Roman architecture evolved into public works that served to improve living conditons and city efficiency rather than appeal to the public minority, who cherished the classical simplified Doric temples of the Hellenic period. The ideal form is being substituted for the appeal of the mass public.

joel derby said...

I believe that Roman architecture is beautiful, but to say that Roman life was better then modern day life is ridiculous, they lived without basic freedoms in their empire, and had to deal with lack of hygiene, medicine, internet, and some of the most basic things that make life good today.

Also, we enjoy just as much architectural innovation and creation today, we are going through an entirely new architectural revolution.

Ehren said...

I really thought it was interesting how Romans managed to create works of art that were not only intricate in design, well crafted and awe-inspiring, but also served practical purposes. The main example of this that comes to mind is the Pont du Gard. It is amazing that they got water to flow just but designing it a certain way without some of the modern day innovations that we have today.

tmichals said...

Yeah I guess you're right Joel. I just think it seems like such an interesting time period to live in. I guess I was being a little too pessimistic in regards to modern day. My b.

stephen said...

I think what Ehren said about the Pont du Gard is true in that it was not only incredible applicable, but it also was a symbol of Roman dominance. The fact that they could construct a structure across vast lands of different elevations portrays their incredible resolve and dominance over the ladns that they ruled.

El Paco said...

"they lived without basic freedoms in their empire, and had to deal with lack of hygiene, medicine, internet, and some of the most basic things that make life good today."

Joel - they did have basic freedoms, medicine, and hygiene - but this is completely off topic.

Again, the Romans added their own technology to what the Greeks had given them - every civilization has done the same. I don't know what else to say; do I still get credit for posting?

joel derby said...

Yes Andrew, but very unsophisticated and they lived in an empire who gave them the illusion that they lived under a government that cared about their opinions.

And yes Andrew just repeat what other people say, For example, I think that the Romans added to the technology they were given by the Greeks, like every civilization ever.

joel derby said...

And Michelle, you said,

"I love how the Romans blended the art from all the nations they conquered. Perhaps they were not original, for the most part, but they were able to really synthesize those different elements to create something original. And the grandeur of their architecture, especially, and the profundity of art at that time is really quite breathtaking and spectacular.

I find it telling that they invented portraiture, essentially. Theirs was a great era for the citizen, perhaps for a while greater than that of Greece, though there was not much democracy, it is true. Roman citizens enjoyed a great many rights (even if they could not vote) and their government provided a lot of services in addition-- as well as all that beautiful artwork. In many ways, because of their many public works, both of art and of engineering, life for a Roman citizen was greater than that for a Greek-- and that is something we must all take a moment to appreciate.

As for the question of chronology, what isn't chronology? And what isn't subjective? Whether art is better or worse is really a matter of pure opinion, and if any rational "improvement" can be said to be made from one culture to later culture it is probably due to chronology. If we inherit ideas from our predecessors and truly work with them, then we must "improve." And, as a general rule, because of the nature of such chronological improvement, we will often look back and think we have improved, simply because, chronologically, one form of art/aesthetic is closer to our present one than other. If a culture/art form has not "improved" (in our perspective), it has most likely failed to build upon elements of the previous one (instead casting those aside and working from nothing)."


-I agree

JP said...

Joel, you said,

And Michelle, you said,

"I love how the Romans blended the art from all the nations they conquered. Perhaps they were not original, for the most part, but they were able to really synthesize those different elements to create something original. And the grandeur of their architecture, especially, and the profundity of art at that time is really quite breathtaking and spectacular.

I find it telling that they invented portraiture, essentially. Theirs was a great era for the citizen, perhaps for a while greater than that of Greece, though there was not much democracy, it is true. Roman citizens enjoyed a great many rights (even if they could not vote) and their government provided a lot of services in addition-- as well as all that beautiful artwork. In many ways, because of their many public works, both of art and of engineering, life for a Roman citizen was greater than that for a Greek-- and that is something we must all take a moment to appreciate.

As for the question of chronology, what isn't chronology? And what isn't subjective? Whether art is better or worse is really a matter of pure opinion, and if any rational "improvement" can be said to be made from one culture to later culture it is probably due to chronology. If we inherit ideas from our predecessors and truly work with them, then we must "improve." And, as a general rule, because of the nature of such chronological improvement, we will often look back and think we have improved, simply because, chronologically, one form of art/aesthetic is closer to our present one than other. If a culture/art form has not "improved" (in our perspective), it has most likely failed to build upon elements of the previous one (instead casting those aside and working from nothing)."


-I agree




I STRONGLY DISAGREE

El Paco said...

John, you said, "Joel, you said,

And Michelle, you said,

"I love how the Romans blended the art from all the nations they conquered. Perhaps they were not original, for the most part, but they were able to really synthesize those different elements to create something original. And the grandeur of their architecture, especially, and the profundity of art at that time is really quite breathtaking and spectacular.

I find it telling that they invented portraiture, essentially. Theirs was a great era for the citizen, perhaps for a while greater than that of Greece, though there was not much democracy, it is true. Roman citizens enjoyed a great many rights (even if they could not vote) and their government provided a lot of services in addition-- as well as all that beautiful artwork. In many ways, because of their many public works, both of art and of engineering, life for a Roman citizen was greater than that for a Greek-- and that is something we must all take a moment to appreciate.

As for the question of chronology, what isn't chronology? And what isn't subjective? Whether art is better or worse is really a matter of pure opinion, and if any rational "improvement" can be said to be made from one culture to later culture it is probably due to chronology. If we inherit ideas from our predecessors and truly work with them, then we must "improve." And, as a general rule, because of the nature of such chronological improvement, we will often look back and think we have improved, simply because, chronologically, one form of art/aesthetic is closer to our present one than other. If a culture/art form has not "improved" (in our perspective), it has most likely failed to build upon elements of the previous one (instead casting those aside and working from nothing)."


-I agree



I STRONGLY DISAGREE"



I have no strong feelings one way or the other.

tmichals said...

Thank you Andrew. Joel did you know that they used to clean their teeth with their pee? They had whiter teeth than most of us today. Talk about hygiene....

the lyreblog said...

Taylor! Those weren't Romans-- I assume you're referencing Martial's poem? Martial was mocking more rural Italians/foreigners who would clean their teeth with urine. Good, civilized Romans wouldn't dare do such disgusting things.

bballinsupasta said...

i believe that the arch is the greatest thing before sliced bread. i also think that the roman mosaics were really pretty. i like the humor in the kitchen floor scenes. btw i think that the romans should have built less forums and more malls

ndepass said...

although i think the Roman architecture and statues were remarkable, but i personally enjoyed studying the earlier Greek statues more. From what we studied,not that the Roman art didn't, but i enjoyed how a lot of the Greek statues seemed more like "art". they weren't used as propaganda, which i think some what takes a way from the art. i guess just the way they crafted their statues and the techniques they employed were more appealing to me.

Ehren said...

I also think it says a lot that the art we are studying now (early christian, byzantine and islamic) incorporated a lot of the Roman aspects of architecture and built upon them

stephen gieger said...

I think Ehren's comments about Roman influence on the early christian art and architecture is worth noting. The early pictures of Jesus that we have viewed portrayed him in the youthful idealized sense, however, the architecture employs arches and concrete in promoting not only efficiency but stability. The Roman influence even after their downfall exhibits their true ingenuity in many fields.

joel derby said...

Well, i think that the Roman's have influenced the entire world, not just the early Christians who followed them. Their contributions to architecture and art have revolutionized the way we think. I mean, Can you imagine a world without CONCRETE!!!???!111

Aaron Nussdorf said...

can anyone imagine the world without the arch? without that, most modern buildings would not exist.
as to jp's, joel's and wise's posts: are you saying that bueaty and art are or are not subjective? what i say is beautiful may (not) be beautiful for the person sitting next to me. i like jackson pollock and he was hugely infulencial. but does that mean that everyone in the world will like jackson pollock? of course not! art is highly subjective. i feel that absrtact art is more interesting and beautiful than realistic art: i live in the "real" world; i dont want it any more real than it already is. in short, i feel that art, by nature, is extremely subjective.

El Paco said...

I love in the thread about Auden, everyone was all like, "the Greeks are the base for everything!" And then when I mentioned the Romans in that thread y'all were all like "No, the Romans just copied the Greeks," and now that we've gone over the Romans in class everyone is suddenly all like "The Romans are the base for everything!"

Don't worry, I'm not bitter at all

tmichals said...

Haha sorry Michelle... looks like I wasn't paying as much attention in Latin as I thought! Don't tell D-ram!!!!!!!

Manal said...

I think as time moves forward, almost everything is improved and evolved. History is there for a teaching stndpoint. And by learning the Greek style and incorpotating thoes ideas, the Romans were able to play around and come up with better ideas to improve what htey already had. if everyone starts over from scratch, then improvement would be rare. So, yes, the greeks were the basis of the Romans (and maybe everything)but that allowed for new innovations.

Manal said...

My favorite was how the Roman's told Trajan's story for everyone to view and appreciate. The church we studied that depicts the judgement day with Jesus in the middle is similar yet the puropseof it is to cause fear, and that takes away some of its beauty.
So, i agree with everyone who stated that they liked the practicality of the works.

Margaret said...

I also wanted to say that Le Pont du Gard is my favorite, but I may not get credit now. =[

I agree, it's amazing that the Romans constructed the things they did with such extreme precision. I often feel that that intense devotion to perfection has been lost since the dawn of computers and programs that do everything for us... if that makes sense.

Of course, that's given us the opportunity to expand and accomplish feats never thought of before. But still, things just aren't really made the same way anymore.

The exactness in which the Romans copied the Greeks is pretty amazing too. Like with sculpture, even though the Romans made exact copies, their skills were just as profound.

And I also like how the Romans are all about business and public works. Incorporating chosen elements of different conquered nations and meshing them together helped nations get situated with Roman rule. It's like they were always striving to become the perfect society, and this made them noble.