Art for Travellers Greece
The Essential Guide to Viewing Art in Greece
Bill and Lorna Hannan
5" x 7 3/4" • 304 pages • full-color illus.
ISBN 9781566565929 (UK ISBN 9781905214082) • paperback • $20.00 •
"This guidebook is earnest and exhaustive, taking the connoisseur on a room-by room, piece-by-piece, limb-by missing-limb excursion."
-- Foreword Magazine
More Reviews »
The art of Classical Greece has had an astonishing influence on Western art for more than two millennia. Art in Greece, however, extends over even more millennia. Neolithic material dates from about 7000 BCE. Rich and separable styles have been reliably dated by experts from as long ago as 3000 BCE. Greek art, in short, is not just marble statues of Venus and ruins of temples, wonderful though these are. It ranges over the full gamut of styles from abstract geometric to vivid realism.
This travel guide for art lovers winds through the main periods and styles of over three millennia of art on the islands and mainland. Even without a detailed knowledge of Greek civilization, it is an enjoyable trail to follow, but this book enhances the enjoyment by throwing light on the myths and beliefs that inspired and guided the art. It also gives some practical information about travel, opening times, social life and eating in Greece.
These trails through Greece focus on ancient civilizations in Athens, the Peleponnese south of Athens, and the island of Crete as well as Eleusis, Corinth, Mycenae and Olympia. The trail through Athens requires nearly a week. In addition to the legendary sites of the Acropolis and the Agora, Athens is rich in general and specialist museums covering all major periods of Ancient Greek art. Outstanding among the lesser-known collections is the elegant Museum of Cycladic Art. A 3-4 day round trip by car or bus from Athens to the Peloponnese takes in famous sites and collections from Olympia in the west to Mycenae, Corinth and Epidaurus closer to Athens. From Athens the island of Crete is a short flight or an agreeable overnight boat trip – except in winter or rough weather. Crete is the home of the Minoan culture. The principal site at Knossos has been partially and controversially reconstructed and the museums contain superb prehistoric and collections of Minoan sculpture, painting and jewelry.
Bill and Lorna Hannan are writers who visit Greece regularly to see part of their large family. Bill Hannan studied fine arts and has worked as an art critic for international news magazines. They are the authors of Art for Travellers France in the same series.
"Over a century ago the Parthenon lost its marbles to Britain's Lord Elgin. Today, as the fumes of modern Athens work to complete the destruction, the ancient ruins remain the essential starting point for an art lover's tour of Greece. Towering above the city, the Parthenon is 'a stark symbol of a glorious past,' a past that the authors thoroughly and intimately embrace in their profuse and consummate guide to art in Greece.
Systematically, the Hannans lay out eight different trails: three in and around Athens; four more to Delphi, Corinth, Olympia, and Thebes; plus an eighth "trail" to the islands of Crete and Santorini. Collectively, the trails offer a range and depth of art that few travellers experience. Each trail takes two or three days-five for the islands. At least three weeks would be needed to do it all. The entrance ticket for Delphi alone is for two days, and the authors advise that a single visit to the National Archeological Museum in Athens does not do it justice.
Like the Hannans' earlier volume, Art for Travellers: France: The Essential Guide for Viewing Art in Paris and its Surrounds, this guidebook is earnest and exhaustive, taking the connoisseur on a room-by room, piece-by-piece, limb-by-missing-limb excursion. The extreme aficionado excepted, travellers will want to integrate the art tour with activities of a more general interest. With the view that it's impossible to isolate the art, the Hannans provide helpful digressions into other themes, such as history and literature. Homer's epics, for example, are said to have provided nineteenth-century archeologists with clues to the location of several ancient sites.
Inappropriate restoration is an issue the Hannans barely touch on. Knossos, the site of the ancient Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, was the object of a controversial reconstruction-rebuilt columns, repainted frescoes, a recreation of the way life might have been. The Hannans limit their criticism to a restrained observation that the restoration, done a century ago, would not be done today.
Exuding a special veneration for objects that survived for thousands of years buried in a few inches of dirt, the Hannans suggest that such prizes challenge the modern myopic notion of history. Whether taking the entire art lover's circuit, a trail or two, or merely "armchairing" it, one feels the influence of Greek art through the millennia-how Minoan culture permeated the Mycenaean world, how Classical culture shaped that of the Roman Empire, and how the legacy of the art of Greece permeates Western culture today."
-- Foreword Magazine
Submit a Review »