Classics-Art 300 Lectures 1- 5

lntroduction: The Greeks of Athens

A. Chronologies- Bolded words are considered most important

   1. 2000-1000 B.C.-

          a. Greek Bronze Age

          b. The island of Crete (Knossos) - King Minos, thalassocracy

          c. The island empire of Thera and the Myth of Atlantis

          d. The warrior aristocracy of Mycenae and the Trojan War

          e. Who were Frank Calvert, Heinrich Schliemann and the poet Homer (not that Homer at the far right below)

four small images of Calvert, Schliemann, Greek stamp image, Homer Simpson think of beer

2. 1000-675 B.C.- the Geometric Period- gradual rebirth of Greece, oligarchy, archon

3. 675 B.C.- 600 B.C.- The Orientalizing Period- influence of eastern cultures such as Assyria and Phoenicia

4. 600-500 B.C.- The Archaic Period- the rise of

Athens as a powerful democracy

 

B. Key Concepts and Terms of the Archaic Period:

Areopagus

Boule

Ekklesia

Archons

Kleisthenes

Deme

Democracy

Isonomia

Parresia

 

 

Lecture 2:  The Athenian Acropolis, The Greek Temple Form and Greek Art

View images of: 1) typical temple groundplan; 2) elevation of the Doric order; 3) elevation of the Ionic order

A. 500 B.C. - 400 B.C. The Golden Age of Athens/ The Golden Years

B. Major Events of the Golden Age of Athens

   1. The Persian Wars 490-479 B.C.-Themistokles of Athens versus Xerxes
   2. Rule of Pericles- The Golden Age at its peak, building of the Parthenon
   3. The Peloponnesian Wars 431-404 B.C.

C. The Development of the Athenian Agora (market place) and its Buildings

   1. Headquarters of the Democracy based on the Deme
   2. The Boule- Athenian Council Chamber
   3. The Temple of Hephaistos
   4. The Stoa
   5. Ostracism

 D. Greek Architecture in Athens-- the  results!!!!

    * The Propylaea
    * The Parthenon- most important Doric Temple of the Greeks in Athens
         1. Parts of a temple- know this
         2. The Column- base, shaft, capital
         3. Entablature- architrave, triglyphs and metopes, pediment
         4. Refinements- Entasis, diminution
         5. Color scheme
    * Other types of Greek Temples- the Ionic and the Corinthian
    * Dr. Soren tries to build a temple on the island of Cyprus in the ancient city of Kourion--

View images of 1) Mantiklos figurine; 2) Doryphoros; 3) Kore no. 675

E. Sculpture as Art

   1. Greek Sculpture and its Evolution  
         1. Geometric Sculpture- 1000-675 B.C.
         2. Orientalizing Sculpture- the Mantiklos Figurine from Boeotia ca. 650 B.C.
         3. 675-600 B.C.
         4. Archaic Sculpture- the Kouros form, New York Kouros 590 B.C.
         5. 600- 500 B.C.
   2. Polykleitos- the canon of proportion of ca. 440 B.C. in the Classical Period
         1. The Doryphoros or spear bearer naked athlete statue
         2. Contrapposto- knowledge of weight shift of human figure
         3. 500- 300 B.C.

F. Greek Pottery

   1. Attic black figured pottery- 675- 500 B.C.
   2. Attic red figured pottery- 500- 300 B.C.
   3. The strange case of Dr. Soren and the Kleophrades Painter vase in Harvard's Fogg Art Museum

G. The Panathenaea or Festival of Athena

   1. Poetry and music contests
   2. Athletic events- stadion, pentathlon, wrestling, boxing
   3. The Parthenon Frieze- bringing of the peplos to Athena
   4. Panathenaic amphoras- prize vases  

H. Development of the Greek Theater

   1. The Great Dionysia
   2. The development of tragedy
         1. The choregos and the chorus
         2. Thespis  
         3. Aeschylos and the Oresteia-- Agamemnon

I The Form of the Greek Theater

   1. The Theater of Dionysus at Athens
   2. The Theater at Epidauros
   3. The skene
   4. Proskenion
   5. Orchestra
   6. Theatron
   7. Paradoi
   8. Odeon

J. Elements of the Greek Tragedy

   1. Pride goeth before a fall-- the problem of hubris
   2. Problems of the rich and famous in royal halls
   3. Conflict of young and old, particularly in Euripides' plays
   4. Symbolism and Imagery  
   5. Inscrutable gods
   6. Chorus knows the proper way to behave, protagonists do not
   7. Morality plays- plot is known to audience, but play is innovative in staging and presentation of moral instruction   

 

Lecture 3: The Films of Dorothy Arzner

A. Dorothy Arzner - the Classical Anti-Feminist Feminist! (1900-1979)

thumbnail image Dorothy Arzner

1. Early days
2. William DeMille, James Cruze
3. Women's Pictures (1927-1943)

B. Innovations and Discoveries

   1. The Movable Microphone
   2. First successful woman director and first independent director
   3. Discovers Rosalind Russell and Katherine Hepburn, Fredric March
   4. Listed in Top 10 Directors in Hollywood
   5. Overlooked by the critics or misunderstood
         1. "Little avant-garde or elevated consciousness," Marjorie Rosen in Popcorn Venus
         2. "Her films weren't interesting in any way. She was a hack." Robert Wise, famous director and producer

C. The Arzner Dialectic

   1. Morality Plays- deeply religious I was led by the grace of God to the movies", Christian scientist
   2. Christian Scientist- seeker of wisdom, courage conquers death
   3. Fascination with Ancient Greece
         1. Art History student at the Westlake School
         2. Greek Revival Home
         3. "All my films are Greek tragedies"
         4. Fascination with Sophocles' Antigone

D. Sophocles' Antigone- fifth century B.C.

   1. Oedipus has sons Eteocles, King of Thebes, and Polynices who attacks him
   2. Both die in single hand to hand combat - 7 Against Thebes
   3. Creon, the new king of Thebes buries Eteocles with honor
   4. Declares death by burial alive to whoever buries Polynices
   5. Sister Antigone wants to defy Creon and her own sister Ismene
   6. Creon's son Haemon loves Antigone and kills self with sword
   7. Chorus warns Creon about the situation but he doesn't heed them
   8. Two kinds of Greek women- traditional and independent
   9. Wisdom through suffering
  10. Animal imagery, particularly birds
  11. Obedience to man's law versus obedience to higher law
  12. Generation gap-classical Greek vs. Late Classical Greek

Lecture 4: Christopher Strong (1933) and Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)

image from movie poster of Christopher Strong and Katherin Hepburn


A. Dorothy Arzner's Versions of Sophocles' Antigone in Modern Guise

     1. Arzner is the only Greek Revival filmmaker

     2. Arzner follows Greek tragedies and their characteristics

B. Parallels to Sophocles' play:

   1. Akropolis of Athens replaced by Akron in Ohio
   2. Obedience to traditional law versus higher law - which is the right thing to do?
   3. The Role of the Woman
         1. Independent women- Lady Cynthia Darrington (Katherine Hepburn)
         2. Traditional Woman- Lady Strong (Billie Burke)
   4. Warning chorus- voices of reason and calm unheeded
   5. Hubris --pride goeth before a fall
   6. Morality Play- curse on families through generations
   7. Wisdom through suffering- Cynthia Darrington's final action
   8. Animal imagery- the Giant Moth! Burns when too close to flame
   9. Individuals blind to the consequences of their actions like Oedipus
  10. Irony- something appears to be the case but the opposite is true
  11. Strong sense of fate and destiny- chance meetings, missed connections

C. Arzner's Personal Life- Is it relevant to her art?

   1. Feminist perspective- strong woman dominates weak men, yet Arzner hates feminists, women are complex, men driven by base desire, parallels with Aristophanes' Greek play Lysistrata
   2. Sensitivity to the plight of women in a man's world of the thirties-makes a superwoman, influence of Isadora Duncan, Marion Morgan and Classical Dancing

Lecture 5: Arzner's Cinematic Touches

A. Arzner trademarks

   1. Great attention to detail- associations with animals, classical names-- not acroplis but Akron, Ohio (!)
   2. Nuance and gesture to reveal character- Darrington's treatment of the dogs
   3. Opening Scene- the Sense of Fate, Destiny, the Gods Apollo and Venus
         1. Influence of the Lysistrata- women with dazzling power over men but men run the world or think they do
         2. Apollo as leader of the 9 muses, patron of the arts
         3. Rich youth in depths of American Depression of 1930s
         4. Men as impulsive lecherous drunken jackasses
         5. Ironic statements- dance teacher talks of destiny then dies suddenly
         6. Role of Chance or Destiny- inscrutable gods watch us mortals
         7. The Chorus- Voices of quiet, calm and simple.
   4. Written and Directed by women (Tess Slesinger and Dorothy Arzner) and starring Lucille Ball and Maureen O'Hara
   5. Tess Slesinger- Are Men Really Necessary?, Girls School, The Good Earth, powerful feminism before the movement formally existed, dies of cancer at 39.

 

Read This:

Christopher Strong (1933)- starring Katherine Hephurn (Lady Cynthia Darrington), Colin Clive (Christopher Strong)., Billie Burke (Lady Strong), Helen Chandler (Monica Strong). Written by Zoe Akins and directed by Dorothy Arzner.

At first glance Christopher Strong seems like just another creaky old "women's picture" from the 1930s about an English Lord who falls for a flashy younger woman. But director Dorothy Arzner creates a highly personal, subtly imaginative film and she did it her way, but within the Hollywood commercial movie-making system. Moreover, she did it within the even more limited avenues available to American women in the film business at this time.

Katherine Hepburn was a suitable star for such a film. She was the daughter of a Bryn Mawr and Radcliffe art history student who had been a suffragette (woman campaigner to try to get the vote for women in the teens of the 20th century) and an early exponent of birth control, still a dangerously inflammatory issue but considered extremely radical then. Raised to be strong-willed and independent, Hepburn like Arzner was well equipped to succeed in traditionally male territory without the need, as she put it, of "a supporting movement to justify me." Hepburn was moody, wealthy, spoiled, privately tutored, and strongly independent and antiauthoritarian. These traits led to her suspension from Bryn Mawr for smoking and bathing in a public fountain!

At a time when other stars yielded to studio control, Hepburn refused to believe in the public's ridiculous idolizing of Hollywood stars, refused to sign autographs, told the powerful and dangerous gossip columnist Hedda Hopper where to go, and won the nickname Katherine of Arrogance (a parody on Catherine of Aragon, the tragic early 16th century wife of England's King Henry VIII) from a slanderous press and unsympathetic public who eventually named her box office poison in the later thirties.

Hepburn had the right look for the early thirties -- the angular features of the Art Deco and Modernistic art styles, derived from the harsh cubist angularity of Pablo Picasso's paintings: "I have an angular face, an angular body and I suppose an angular personality which jabs into people." When the Art Deco movement gave way to an emphasis in art on the blonde and curvilinear (it was called Depression Modern), Hepburn was no longer in vogue and her eccentric lifestyle no longer considered cute or amusing by 1936. She was dismissed from her contract at RKO after exhibitors refused to accept her films for showing and the studio cast her in a film called Mother Carey's Chickens which she refused to do.

She bought out her contract from RKO, considered a potentially disastrous move for any star, let alonea woman, but slowly fought her way back to the top about the time the thirties curvilinear look subsided in the forties. She has by last count received 11 Academy Award nominations and 3 Oscars and has survived so long that she is now considered fashionable, a Hollywood original who has become an inspiration to creative independent women... and men!.... everywhere!

Christopher Strong is the ideal film in which to witness the Hepburn screen persona as it was being created, molded by the independent creative talent of Dorothy Arzner and writer Zoe Akins. Through her use of the elements of Greek tragedy, Akins and Arzner fashion a subtle masterpiece that the critics have overlooked. Here we can see the different kinds of female attitudes that dominated the 1930s: the self confident and wealthy aviatrix (female flyer) Lady Darrington who dominates the males in her life with her creativity, skill and beauty, the traditional Lady Strong who suffers quietly in the background and tries to apply traditional morality to a world changing so quickly that it is shattering around her, and the confused Monica Strong with her lover of the month and her desire to pursue pleasure and fun with almost pathetic desperation while at the same time admiring the stability and traditional values of her own parents.

Arzner began as a film cutter at Paramount Pictures and edited silent movies. By 1922 she was directing sequences in films, such as the bullfight scenes for Rudolph Valentino's legendary Blood and Sand. As writer and director in 1927, she made a surprise hit with Fashions for Women and continued with a string of successes, usually featuring female stars. She discovered Katherine Hepburn who had already worked with limited success in A Bill of Divorcement, for George Cukor. Hepburn had been relegated to a jungle movie at the time and was found by Arzner at RKO climbing a tree when she decided to cast her into Christopher Strong.