LaunchPad: Ancient Greek Vase Production and the Black-Figure Technique

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by ArtInstituteChicago
published on 04 April 2014

Used for the storage and shipment of grains, wine, and other goods, as well as in the all-male Greek drinking party, known as the symposium, ancient Greek vases were decorated with a variety of subjects ranging from scenes of everyday life to the tales of heroes and gods. The two most popular techniques of vase decoration were the black-figure technique, so-named because the figures were painted black, and the red-figure technique, in which the figures were left the red color of the clay. The black-figure technique developed around 700 B.C. and remained the most popular Greek pottery style until about 530 B.C., when the red-figure technique was developed, eventually surpassing it in popularity. This video illustrates the techniques used in the making and decorating of a black-figure amphora (storage jar) in the Art Institute of Chicago's collection.

This video was produced with the generous support of a Long Range Fund grant provided by the Community Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was created for LaunchPad, a program of digital interpretive materials that supplement the viewing of works of art on display in the Art Institute of Chicago's galleries.

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