What Were the Two Main Types of Art in Ancient Greece?

The ancient Greeks were known for their artistic prowess and their contributions to the field of art have been immeasurable. Two main types of art that flourished in ancient Greece were sculpture and pottery. Both these forms of art were highly valued by the Greeks and were considered a symbol of their culture and civilization.


Sculpture was one of the most celebrated forms of art in ancient Greece. Greek sculptors created life-size statues that were incredibly realistic and portrayed human anatomy with great precision. The Greeks believed that beauty was an essential element of life, and this concept was reflected in their sculptures.

The Greek Ideal

One of the most distinctive features of Greek sculpture was the idealization of the human form. The Greeks believed that a perfect human body should be harmonious, proportionate, and well-balanced. This idealized form was reflected in all aspects of Greek art, from sculptures to paintings.

Materials Used in Sculpture

Greek sculptors used a variety of materials to create their works, including marble, bronze, and clay. Marble was highly prized for its purity and translucency, while bronze was used for its durability and malleability.

Types of Greek Sculpture

Greek sculpture can be divided into two main categories: architectural sculpture and freestanding sculpture. Architectural sculpture refers to sculptures that are part of a building or structure, while freestanding sculptures are standalone works.

Architectural Sculpture

Some examples of architectural sculpture include the Parthenon frieze in Athens, which depicts scenes from Greek mythology on the temple’s exterior walls. Another example is the Temple of Zeus at Olympia which has various sculptures on its pediments depicting mythological stories.

Freestanding Sculpture

Freestanding sculptures could be found in public spaces or private gardens. Some famous examples of freestanding sculptures are the Discobolus by Myron and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.


Pottery was another important form of art in ancient Greece. It was not only used for practical purposes but also as a medium for artistic expression. Greek pottery was highly valued for its quality, durability, and beauty.

Types of Greek Pottery

Greek pottery can be divided into three main categories: black-figure pottery, red-figure pottery, and white-ground pottery.

Black-Figure Pottery

Black-figure pottery was created by painting figures with a slip that turned black when fired. This technique was used from the 7th to 5th centuries BCE. The most famous example of black-figure pottery is the Francois Vase.

Red-Figure Pottery

Red-figure pottery was developed in the 6th century BCE and became popular in the 5th century BCE. It involved painting figures with a slip that turned red when fired.

This technique allowed for greater detail and expression in the figures depicted on the pot. Some famous examples of red-figure pottery include the Sosias Cup and the Berlin Painter’s Amphora.

White-Ground Pottery

White-ground pottery was used from the late 6th to early 5th centuries BCE. It involved painting figures on a white background rather than a black or red one, creating a more delicate effect. One famous example is The Niobid Krater.

In Conclusion

The ancient Greeks were masters of both sculpture and pottery, two art forms that are still celebrated today for their beauty and craftsmanship. Whether it’s an idealized statue or an intricately painted pot, Greek art continues to inspire and captivate people around the world with its timeless appeal.