AP Art History : Analyzing Ancient Grecian and Roman sculpture

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Art History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Ancient Through Medieval Sculpture

In Ancient Greco-Roman art, a figure fighting a hydra represents __________.

Possible Answers:

Julius Caesar

Aristotle

Hercules

Zeus

Correct answer:

Hercules

Explanation:

Ancient Greek and Roman statuary was largely based on three concepts: Greco-Roman mythology, statues of political leaders, and exercises on the ideal form. In Greek mythology, Hercules, the half-man, half-god hero, was tasked with various chores to allow him to enter the realm of the gods. One of the most famous ones was that Hercules had to defeat the multiheaded serpent known as the Hydra.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing Ancient Grecian And Roman Sculpture

Ancient Greek sculpture saw the perfection of the natural form in __________.

Possible Answers:

the male nude

bas-relief scenes

animals

plants

Correct answer:

the male nude

Explanation:

The ancient Greeks saw the male nude form as the ultimate perfection in aesthetics, making it one of the most common subjects of Greek art. One of the key examples of this thought process is "The Dying Gaul," which portrays a dying Gaul, a man who was not Greek, laid out in perfect tension to show his body. This affection for the male nude was picked up by Renaissance and neoclassical artists, as demonstrated by works like Michelangelo's "David."

Example Question #1 : 3 D Art

Roman portrait sculpture is notable for its intense __________.

Possible Answers:

abstraction

realism

naiveté

crudeness

Correct answer:

realism

Explanation:

Roman sculpture was originally derived from Greek sculpture, which was highly refined and desired a pleasing aesthetic of minute detail. Roman sculptors took this to another level, by focusing on an extreme realism, which showed every imperfection in their subjects. Romans believed a person sitting for a sculpture portrait wished an honest portrayal that could show their full virility and nobility.

Example Question #3 : Ancient Grecian And Roman Sculpture

Pictured above is the Boxer at Rest. It is a public domain image and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_at_Rest

The work is likely made of __________.

Possible Answers:

copper

marble

bronze

limestone

Correct answer:

bronze

Explanation:

Based on the figural representation, this sculpture is likely a Greek creation from either the high Classical or Hellenistic period. Take careful note of the nudity, the musculature and the expression on his face, all pointing to Greek dramatic sculpture. That, coupled with the green tinge, suggests the sculpture must be bronze, as that was the material of choice for Greek sculptors. 

Example Question #2 : 3 D Art

Pictured above is the Boxer at Rest. It is a public domain image and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_at_Rest

The sculpture depicts __________.

Possible Answers:

an athlete

a scholar

the discobolus

a dying Gaul

Correct answer:

an athlete

Explanation:

The piece is most definitely Greek in origin, given its bronze make and athletic depiction of man. The man is idealized and muscular, beautiful after the Hellenistic fashion. Like many of the Greek piece of the time, he is an athlete, meant to demonstrate the power of the human form at its finest. He is not, though, the Discobolus, Greek for discus- thrower. 

Example Question #3 : 3 D Art

Pictured above is the Boxer at Rest. It is a public domain image and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_at_Rest

The particular figural representation of the Boxer reveals the high Greek fascination with ____________.

Possible Answers:

loss

idealism

nudity

emotionalism

Correct answer:

idealism

Explanation:

The Greeks have always been fascinated with the human form, but it isn't until the High Classical period that one begins to see true idealism. There is a fascination with the musculature of man and how he looks in motion. There is a particular interest also in the male form depicted at his most beautiful. In fact, the musculature of the Boxer is impossible; he is flexing opposing muscles while at rest, something a human can't do but sculptors took liberty with in order to demonstrate the idealism in the power of the form. 

Example Question #4 : 3 D Art

Pictured above is the Boxer at Rest. It is a public domain image and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_at_Rest

The hypermasculine form and athletic undertones of the piece would have placed it in ____________.

Possible Answers:

a temple

a gymnasium

in a private home

a forum

Correct answer:

a gymnasium

Explanation:

The work depicts not a god but a man, and therefore would not have been in a temple. His form is athletic and he is nude, as male athletes would likely have been, but would not have been appropriate for an open public space. He's made of bronze and therefore likely too expensive for any patron other than the state. This leaves the gymnasium as a likely home, especially given it was a place of learning and fitness where only men could go. 

Example Question #5 : 3 D Art

Pictured above is the Boxer at Rest. It is a public domain image and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_at_Rest

The work, like many others after the Greek tradition, denotes a particular undercurrent of ___________.

Possible Answers:

anguish

subjugation

emotionalism

homoeroticism

Correct answer:

homoeroticism

Explanation:

The Greeks, especially Athenian Greeks, were accepting of practicing male homosexuals as it was often seen as a venture of the stronger sexes with no interference from the women. Athletics especially were a medium of this expression. This translates into Greek art wherein male athletes depict the same homoerotic undertones that would have colored the actual event in much the same way.

Example Question #6 : 3 D Art

Pictured above is the Boxer at Rest. It is a public domain image and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_at_Rest

This work is a break from the High Classic tradition, which was more likely to depict what in its figural representation?

Possible Answers:

Stoicism

Melancholy

Delight

Sorrow

Correct answer:

Stoicism

Explanation:

High classical sculptors in the Greek tradition were more interested in the male form and its depiction in motion than expressing a particular emotional quality. Statues of the classical tradition were known for their muscular frames but a disinterest in the face. The expression was largely blank, meant to direct focus on the body instead.

Example Question #7 : 3 D Art

Pictured above is the Boxer at Rest. It is a public domain image and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_at_Rest

The figure is nude because __________.

Possible Answers:

there is meant to be a homoerotic undertone

the sculptor wanted to demonstrate the utter humiliation of his loss

traditionally athletes would compete in the nude

the artist couldn't be bothered to add clothing

Correct answer:

traditionally athletes would compete in the nude

Explanation:

Most figures in the Greek artistic tradition were nude, especially the men. It was meant not only to demonstrate the form in motion (best seen in the nude) but also as a mark of tradition. Athletes competed nude in Greece, even boxers. The sculptor wouldn't have had a reference as to what he would wear, anyway. 

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