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Art Show: The Art of War

Greek Man of War

by Virginia Ann Zuelsdorf

Banner for The Art of War art show

Art: Greek Man of War  by Artist Virginia Ann Zuelsdorf
This painting was done at a life drawing session. The models, being artists themselves, were portraying an ancient Greek Warrior and the woman he rescued. They brought several props, including the sword and a headdress for the woman.

Approximately 600 B.C., the Spartans comprised a unique society organized along communal and militaristic principles. Their society has been described as stagnant and has rarely been praised. The Spartan Warrior's noblest virtue was to lay down one's life for the state.

Sparta conquered the neighboring Greek state of Messiana and occupied and controlled the people of that state. They treated these people as slaves (or Serfs, as they were known) and put them to work. There was constant danger of rebellion among the Serfs.

Threatened by revolt and hostile neighboring states, Spartan males were trained from birth to be functioning members of an army. Weak infants were left in the mountains to die and surviving males were put into military training at age seven.

Education, literacy and art played no role in a soldier's life. What was valued was silence and stoicism in the face of suffering,.

Male nudes are common in Greek art. Nudity has often been used by artists to depict various roles of men, ranging from heroism and status to defeat.

They are also common in representations of athletic contests and Olympic Games. Male nudes have also been used to depict Gods throughout art history.

Greek men are often, but not always, represented in the nude. Artists use nudes to show the physical prowess men used to defeat their enemies.

However, Greek men are actually known to have worn clothing when going into battle, for protection.

You might wonder why the male nude is headless. I do this often with nudes, to give them anonymity and also for composition. This habit began when I was doing black and white photography in college and has stayed with me.

I began my painting with black ink, using both a pen and a brush, to depict the lines and curves of the figures. I then added several earth-tone colors, from gallons of paint that were available to us. I finished the painting later, at home, when I added oil crayons or pastels. I like to "scribble" when I paint, and oil pastels are ideal for that purpose.

Detail Images

Detail Image for art Greek Man of War

Rescued Woman

Detail Image for art Greek Man of War

Detail of sword

Detail Image for art Greek Man of War

Detail of torso showing use of oil crayons


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