Art Literature

Representational art

Art develops continuously throughout the period covered by this description of Gehennum, reaching the peak of its beauty in the Classical Period, but gaining in detail and emotional power even while its beauty declines.

Before the Archaic Period, decorative art was confined to geometric designs on pottery, stylised and rather naive wooden sculpture for devotional purposes, and elaborate but non-representational metalwork in jewellery.

The Archaic Period

Archaic art is marked by rapidly-improving figure-painting on pottery, starting with somewhat stylised outline figures on an uncoloured (white, bisque, or terra-cotta) ground, but progressing to lifelike coloured figures often on a coloured ground, and to more-involved and better composition.

Sculpture emerges from the temple, and adopts stone as a medium, but poses are rather rigid and very conventional, and facial expression is confined to an un-lifelike half-smile. The sculpture of this period is mostly confined to an upright stance and straightforward pose.

The best Archaic art is mural painting, which is very vigorous and full of colour and movement.

The Classical Period

Art is at the apogee of grace and beauty in the Classical Period. Artists enjoy their highest esteem at this time, and produce the works that hold and improve their value best.

Sculptors make a close study of anatomy and proportion, and produce sculptures with much better features, in far freer poses. Sculptures of people doing things, rather than just standing, become the rule. Architecture flourishes, producing a variety of styles, some local, of different inspiration and effect, but all based on balance and proportion. Relief sculpture emerges, and is widely used in architectural decoration.

Perspective and tromp l'oiel realism revolutionise mural-painting. Painting on papyrus, panels, screens, and silk allows the creation of moveable, tradeable works of art.

Decoration of pottery shares in the new concern with grace and harmony of proportion, but technique does not improve further.

The most famous artists of all time in Gehennum are Lykomorphus (also an alchemist and engineer) and Gasparion the Magnificent. They both flourish at the height of the Classical Period.

The Decadent Period

In the Decadent Period art abandons its obsession with beauty, grace, and proportion. Sculpture and painting become more concerned with detail, observation, and the depiction of emotion (even at the cost of realism), producing pieces which are more effective and fascinating, but less beautiful. Portraiture generally benefits from this, tending less to idealise the subject.

Decadent architecture tends to add to buildings decoration which is unrelated to their form. The concern of architecture is with function, not form. Astounding feats of engineering are accomplished, but by engineers, not artists.

Literature

In the Archaic Period prose is thought a bald and inelegant form of writing, suitable to business, chronicles, technical writing, and such dull, matter-of-fact affairs. Artistic writing, for legends, stories, and things meant to be read for enjoyment, is done in verse. The writing of poetry is a common pastime for gentlefolk.

By the Classical Period study of rhetoric and dialectic (see scholastics) has revealed the existence of refined technique in prose, and prose fiction (in the form of the novel) has been invented by the hetaira Aspasia and widely imitated.

In the Decadent Period prose writing is considered as sublime an art as versification, and several affected styles and strict forms are recognised. Ordinary, plain-speech, prose has fallen in regard, except among archaists and antiquaries who still admire the grace and clarity of the 'golden age of prose'.


Copyright © 1988-2004 Brett Evill. All rights reserved.


Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.