Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period
By John Boardman
Review by Josh S (Classics)
If you show someone a picture of the Parthenon, the vast majority of people will recognise it, even if they cannot name it. If you show someone a picture of the Discobolus, even though the name is much less well known, a similarly large proportion of people will recognise it also. The enduring power and memorability of works of art and architecture is incredibly striking therefore. It was something that intrigued me before I came to university, and if it is something that also interests you, I would recommend Boardman’s book.
It is one in a series of books he has written on different periods of Ancient Greek sculpture and art in general. He breaks each book down into manageable sections and tackles a select amount of material evidence in a clear and accessible manner, concluding each section with an equally clear finalising statement. Technical vocabulary, especially concerning the physical production of sculpture in Ancient Greece, is explained thoroughly; otherwise, his language his easily digestible and concise. This is especially helpful if you have never studied art before in any capacity. Another great thing is that this short book has far more pages of images than it does of words – after all, you will end up spending more time looking at them than reading: some of the sculptures are truly extraordinary.
If you are considering history of art, John Boardman is an important figure in our understanding of Ancient art (even if modern scholarship has built up or disagreed with some of his points). Equally, if you are looking at Classics, then this is also a good book to read, as well as a refreshing one. Classics can often appear to be the study of monumental, ancient texts that requires lots of lots reading and language work. However, the subject is far broader than that and encompasses art as well as other disciplines, such as philosophy. This book introduces you to this (perhaps) new area of study with a clarity and excitement that makes you want to find out more.
Plus, if you like it, you have the option to study Greek sculpture as a module at Oxford!
Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period by John Boardman