What Was the Style in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Greece, the style of art and architecture was greatly influenced by the ideals of balance, harmony, and proportion. This period, known as Classical Greece, spanned from the 5th to the 4th century BCE and is considered one of the most significant periods in human history.

The Aesthetic Principles

Ancient Greek art aimed to capture and represent the idealized human form and its relationship with nature. This pursuit of perfection can be seen in their sculptures, paintings, and even architectural designs.


Ancient Greek sculpture exemplifies their pursuit of ideal beauty. The human body was depicted with great attention to detail and anatomical accuracy. Sculptures were often made from marble or bronze and portrayed gods, heroes, athletes, or ordinary people.

  • Balance: Figures were depicted in a balanced pose known as contrapposto. This technique created a naturalistic appearance by shifting weight onto one leg while relaxing the other.
  • Proportion: The Greeks believed in using mathematical ratios to create harmonious compositions. The “Golden Ratio” was frequently employed to ensure perfect proportions between different body parts.
  • Realism: Though idealized, Greek sculptures aimed for realism by capturing naturalistic details such as muscles, veins, and facial expressions.


Ancient Greek painting was primarily done on wooden panels or pottery vessels. Unfortunately, very few examples have survived over time. However, we can still decipher some of their artistic styles through ancient texts.

  • Fresco: Frescoes were popular in Ancient Greece. They involved painting directly on wet plaster walls, allowing the pigments to become a part of the wall itself and ensuring long-lasting artwork.
  • Mythology: Greek paintings often depicted scenes from mythology, such as the adventures of gods and heroes. These stories were an integral part of their culture and were frequently portrayed in their art.
  • Perspective: While not as advanced as modern perspective techniques, Greek painters attempted to create a sense of depth by using overlapping figures and diminishing sizes.

Architectural Style

Ancient Greek architecture has left an indelible mark on the world. The most iconic architectural style of this period is known as “Doric,” characterized by simple yet elegant designs.

  • Columns: Greek buildings featured columns that supported the weight of the structure and created a sense of grandeur. The three main types of columns seen in Ancient Greece are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
    • Doric: Doric columns are plain in design with a fluted shaft and no base. They support a simple capital consisting of a circular cushion-like element called an echinus topped with a square abacus.
    • Ionic: Ionic columns are more decorative than Doric ones.

      They have slender fluted shafts, scroll-shaped capitals called volutes, and rest on a base.

    • Corinthian: Corinthian columns are the most ornate with decorative acanthus leaves on their capitals. They also have bases like Ionic columns but are generally taller and more slender.
  • Symmetry: Greek temples were designed with perfect symmetry, often following a rectangular floor plan with an entrance at one end and a colonnade surrounding the central space.
  • Pediments and Friezes: Temples featured triangular pediments that housed sculptural representations of mythological scenes. Elaborate friezes with relief sculptures were also present.

Ancient Greek art and architecture continue to inspire artists and architects to this day. The principles of balance, harmony, and proportion remain essential elements in creating visually engaging and aesthetically pleasing designs.