3. Sculpture of the Cycladic Islands

The Cycladic islands are rich in minerals. The most important mineral that we need to know about is marble. The islands have great deal. The other important mineral is obsidian.  Obsidian comes from volcanic action which was prevalent in the Aegean Sea.   Obsidian was made into tools such as knives of many sizes that were extremely sharp. This made it possible to carve flat ivory figures.  It is important to remember that the Ivory had to be carved from the ground before it was shaped into a figure. This was difficult work that could not have been done without the obsidian tools. It is thought that figures were laid in the  graves of people  on these islands.Huge numbers of these ivory pieces have been stolen over time by grave robbers.  one of the problems with this having happened is that we have no way of knowing how many of these ivory figures were stolen and sold on the black market.


This piece was chosen  because it shows how the marble figures might have been in the process of their carving.  There are always beginnings and trials and errors however when we look at the history of art in books these are seldom shown.


This is another example of an early figure that predated the elegant  Cyclanic  figures that had so much influence on modern art in Europe.

What of thes statue to you see the that night than out of proportion? 

Make a list of the parts of this marble statue that seem a bit out of place.



There are very few male sculptures from the Cycladic islands.

You are looking at the carefully sculpted hair it might be important to think about the fact that there are very few male figures created from the marble.


Why do you think this might be?


This is just to show you how the marbles were placed in the graves.

Given that we do not know enough about the use of these marble figures, for our purpose is we will start by showing you some of the heads that have  no bodies.



The piece is classic.   In this case  I use the word classic because the head is almost always found at that particular angle. None of the heads have any additional mark for eyes or mouth. The most prominent thing is the nose.

As I progressed over time it became more and more complex. By the time modern art had gotten well started the paintings and sculptures were so complex that when the figures were revealed it was a shock to the artistic world. This change the way a number of sculptors were done.




Here we have at  typical stylized figure.  That is slightly tilted head, the strong nose. a solid neck, and arms across over the belly. We have sense of partition between the belly and the clearly marked female genital area, long legs and feet at an angle.



You can see that the marble comes in a variety of colors. Note that although these figures are generally alike there are significant differences if you look close. This particular figure has a sharp angle at the end of the top of the head. The marks for the genital area with a bit more like bikinis worn on the beaches today.

We must thank the photographer for this particular image. It is rare that we get to see more than one side of a single image. And although the set the stylized features that we have seen before the sculpture has created a softer more rounded figure.  The shoulders are more gently rounded the arms are not exactly parallel to the feet. in this case that hit themselves are more carefully delineated appeared  to be more gently bent and there is space between the legs down to the ankle. The marble  is not as pure in color and some that we saw before.



In this case can see how much more sharply angled shoulders are. The photographer seems to have let the figure from behind which gives it a glow that is not seen in any of the other images.


This is the only family sculpture that I found. Even though the faces are bland with short noses the sculptor creates a simple sense of joy by the way parents are holding their child.

Do you see it the same way as I do?

Take the time to go back and review the figures to see if you would talk about differently. This is a chance to have your say if you write it down in your journal.




We are almost at the end of our look at the sculptures from the cyclonic islands and we see this Sentinel figure. Whoever opposes the ivory figure did a good job of giving it a sense of height which it may or may not have.



Museums are wonderful places because the sculptures are so carefully placed and lit.  the museum show you how many of these sculptures there are to be found. You will find one or maybe two of the psychotic sculptures in museums around the world. It is important to remember that the pieces are taken completely out of context and we have no idea what they looked like when the archaeologists found them on top of a grave. Here they are all standing up and on the islands they were all lying down.