The Art of Ancient Greek Theater considers the vibrant imprint that ancient Greek tragedy and comedy left on the visual arts of classical Greece. Theatrical performance as we know it originated in the mid-sixth century B.C. with choral dances held in honor of Dionysos, the Greek god of wine and patron of the theater. The great tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, as well as the comedies of Aristophanes and Menander are preserved as some of the world's most renowned literature and have formed the basis for theater performance as it is still practiced. Beyond being popular in their day, these plays inspired an array of lively paintings and sculpture, and those works represent, in some cases, the only evidence we have of some of the plays from ancient Greece.
Over ninety of these objectspottery vases, sculpture, reliefs, and masksfrom museums across Europe and the United States are featured in this book, published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name on view at the Getty Villa from August 26, 2010, through January 3, 2011. The nine insightful essays and over 130 illustrations reveal the Greek origins of theater and their multifaceted expression in the visual arts.
Mary Louise Hart is associate curator in the Department of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum and coauthor of Understanding Greek Vases: A Guide to Terms, Styles, and Techniques (Getty Publications, 2002).
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