[an error occurred while processing this directive] Greek Color Theory and the Four Elements / J.L. Benson
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Greek Sculpture and the Four Elements

by J.L. Benson.
Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, 2000.

About this book

This is one part of the first comprehensive study of the development of Greek sculpture and painting with the aim of enriching the usual stylistic-sociological approaches through a serious, disciplined consideration of the basic Greek scientific orientation to the world. This world view, known as the Four Elements Theory, came to specific formulation at the same time as the perfected contrapposto of Polykleitos and a concern with the four root colors in painting (Polygnotos). All these factors are found to be intimately intertwined, for, at this stage of human culture, the spheres of science and art were not so drastically differentiated as in our era.

The world of the four elements involved the concepts of polarity and complementarism at every level. One of the most important results of this approach, taken first mainly on the basis of an analysis of sculpture, is a deeper understanding of the conventional articulation of Greek art (and culture) into large characteristic periods. However, in order to understand the finer subdivisions of these periods, it was necessary to supplement the concern with the four elements as a dynamic system of macrocosmic-microcosmic relationships with a study of the Greek conception of the mind, on the basis both of hints in ancient literature, mythology and art and of certain aspects of modern psychology. The result of this is a different kind of understanding than hitherto suggested for the motivating forces behind our conventional sub-periods. Other laborers in this field have been Bruno Snell and J. J. Pollitt.

Essentially this book presents a new way of seeing Greek art through thought structures based on the work of the Greek natural philosophers themselves. Among these, Empedokles is at last accorded the commanding position he deserves to occupy for his contribution.

Copyright 2000, J. L. Benson. With appropriate attribution, permission is granted for the scholarly use, distribution and reproduction of this work in full, excepting those illustrations and figures for which the author does not hold the copyright. (See Credits in the text for image copyright owners.) A complete listing of all of the Figures used in the text is available for easy viewing from http://www.library.umass.edu/benson/jbgsimages.html

The text is available in two versions:

See also Greek Color Theory and the Four Elements, by J.L. Benson. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, 2000.

For more information, contact:
Rachel Lewellen
Librarian for Digital Initiatives
Du Bois Library

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