Badania ikonograficzno-ikonologiczne greckiego malarstwa wazowego – zarys problematyki

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Komitet Nauk Pra- i Protohistorycznych PAN, Muzeum Archeologiczne w Gdańsku

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Some Remarks on Iconographical and Iconological Approaches to Greek Vase Painting


In the text the author pointed out that the iconographic and iconological approach in the study of Greek vase painting has not developed and never functioned strictly according to the method proposed by E. Panofsky, but it emerged as a result of a specific adaptation of elements of this method with the participation of others. E. Bugaj characterized the contribution of C. Robert’s research to iconographic studies on the Greek art, whose work at the beginning of the twentieth century set the course of scientific procedure in this field. Attention then was turned in the text to the so-called anthropological turn in the studies on ancient art and on the achievements of Swiss and French scholars, inspired by structuralism and comparative linguistics. These studies have shown that images on Greek vases cannot be read as direct sources of information about the ancient world, because their purpose was not to represent reality. They should be perceived as the expression of a specific mental system, characteristic for a specific cultural environment in a given place and time. As a result of these studies, new conclusions have been reached on the subject of Greek vase painting imagery, indicating that specific representations are based on the specific types of figures and iconographic schemas. Further on, the author presented the links between iconological and semiotic approaches, emphasizing that despite their common goal of reading the meanings and deeper senses of the pictures, reaching it in the above mentioned approaches is different. Iconology is primarily interested in setting the analysed images in the external world, of which they are a part and "representation". Semiotics, in turn, focuses on the internal, operational structure of images, in order to reveal the principles of their functioning. Semioticians argue that the world of Greek images is culturally constructed. It results in the creation of a specific language of images, and the recognition of its functioning allows for the recognition of the mentality of its creators, namely the Greeks, and allows an attempt to look at their cultural heritage in a way as close as possible to that in which they looked at themselves. In the conclusion of the text the author stated that contemporary research on Greek vase painting is based on elements of both iconological and semiotic methods, but above all it is aimed at broadly understood visual culture studies. Their common element is the belief that vase paintings do not directly represent the past reality, but are constructed of types of figures and iconographic schemas that convey some values and ideas, important at that time both for the vases painters and for the people who order them. Moreover, there is no single, correct way to analyse and interpret them.




greckie malarstwo wazowe, ikonografia i ikonologia, zwrot antropologiczny w badaniach sztuki greckiej, semiotyka, studia wizualne, Greek vase painting, iconography and iconology, anthropological turn in the study of Greek art, semiotics, visual culture studies


[in:] Estetyka w archeologii. Obrazowanie w pradziejach i starożytności, ed. D. Minta-Tworzowska, Gdańsk, Komitet Nauk Pra- i Protohistorycznych PAN, Muzeum Archeologiczne w Gdańsku, pp. 15-27.




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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego