Minoan Art Characteristics & Style

Minoan Art Characteristics & Style

Minoan art had a political as well as functional and aesthetic purpose, especially in court murals where rulers were depicted in their religious function, confirming their role as the community's leader.

It's also worth noting that art items were primarily reserved for the ruling elite, who made up a small percentage of the population compared to the bulk of farmers. As a result, for those rich enough to afford expensive art, it became a vehicle for emphasizing social and political inequities.


What is the significance of Minoan art?

The Bronze Age Minoan culture of Crete (2000-1500 BCE) was recognized for its love of animal, sea, and plant life, which was mirrored in their art, which was used to decorate frescoes, ceramics, jewelry, stone containers, and sculpture.

Minoan artists preferred flowing, realistic patterns and designs, and their work lacked the vitality found in contemporary East art. Apart from its beautiful qualities, Minoan art reveals important details about one of the ancient Mediterranean's first cultures' religious, social, and burial customs.

Characteristics of Minoan Art

Practicality, internal adornment, and the elevation of governmental people and their reputation when viewed were all goals of Minoan art. Minoan wall paintings were among the most common styles of paintings. They were used to decorate the palace's walls. The subject matter of many of these photos of everyday life was human beings, which was a recurring topic.

There will be a lot of dynamic compositions with lots of movement. Animals, sea life, and plants, all of which are sourced from nature, were also popular topics. Aside from depictions of nature, abstracted shapes were a key aspect of Minoan art subject matter. Curvilinear curves, lines, and other geometric forms adorn not just the walls, but also ceramics and other objects.


What is the focus of Minoan art?

It showed ordinary life, religious rites, and nature: plants and animal life, especially bulls, which were used to represent power and abundance.

What were some of the common themes in Minoan art?

The Minoans were able to enjoy long periods of peace. The art of this period usually represented common people's lives. It depicted current happenings as well as the actual surroundings of the Minoans. Minoan art also included religious events and gods and goddesses.

Minoan Pottery

Vasiliki pre-palatial ceramics with mottled red and black surfaces and Barbotine ceramics with ornamental excrescences added to the surface were the first stages of Minoan pottery development. After that came the polychrome Kamares porcelain.

It was first used in Crete at the same time as the pottery wheel, and it is supposed to have originated in Phaistos during the Old Palace period (2000 BCE - 1700 BCE). The bold red and white designs on a black background define Kamares pottery. In certain situations, relief was provided to the vessel in the form of shells and flowers.


Minoan Frescoes

The Minoans utilized true fresco painting to decorate their palaces, which is the painting of color pigments on wet lime plaster without the use of a binding agent to keep the paint from fading when absorbed by the cement. Low relief in the plaster to produce a shallow three-dimensional illusion was also used throughout the palaces, as was fresco secco, or the application of paint, especially for details, to a dry plaster surface.

The primary hues were black, red, white, yellow, blue, and green. Although there are no surviving instances of shading effects in Minoan paintings, the color of the background periodically changes while the foreground themes stay static, which is notable. Although the Egyptians did not use real fresco, the Minoans did inherit some of the Egyptians' color principles for architectural painting. Metals are yellow, blue, and red, with male skin being red and female skin being white.

The palace complexes' walls (either entirely or above windows and entrances or below the dado), ceilings, timber beams, and occasionally flooring were all covered with frescoes. They began with abstract shapes and geometric designs, then moved on to a variety of topics in scales ranging from micro to life-size. Rituals, processions, festivals, festivities, and bullfights were among the most popular scenes.

Although Minoan frescoes were occasionally surrounded with beautiful geometric borders, the primary fresco occasionally went beyond customary boundaries such as corners and absorbed the viewer.

Minoan Painting

Plaster walls from Minoan palaces and villas that have survived to the present day provide an invaluable portrayal of prehistoric life in Crete. Miniature frescoes from the Minoan era Characters and settings are depicted in the Minoan frescoes with solid color outlines and the recognized Egyptian side view with the frontal eye.

The Egyptian influence on painting appears to end there, as the Minoan frescoes diverge in several ways from those of other Mediterranean cultures. Every painted figure is distinguished by its small waist, fluidity of form, and liveliness of character.

Characters and natural settings alike benefit from the vibrant colors and high-contrast patterns, while Minoan aesthetic standards emphasized flexibility, spontaneity, and dynamic motion.

The Minoans utilized a "true" or "wet" painting approach, but Egyptian artists used a "dry-fresco" (fresco secco) technique to create their wall paintings. Painting on wet plaster allowed metal and mineral oxide colors to adhere to the wall nicely while yet allowing for quick application.

Because of the nature of this technique, there was a lot of room for improvisation and spontaneity in the outcome, as well as a bit of chance. As a result, the Minoans' favored flowing moments of life and natural settings were most suited to the actual wet way of painting, which contrasted sharply with the strict stylization and stereotyping typical of other Mediterranean cultures at the period.

Minoan fresco figures are depicted in natural, free-moving poses that reflect the rigors of the activity they are involved in, an attitude typical of a maritime society used to fluidity, vigor, and flexibility of movement.


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