The colours of the ancient Greek architecture

  • Rossana Netti Department of Architecture and Design, Polytechnic of Turin, Turin, Italy
Keywords: Ancient Greek architecture, myth of white, ornament, architectural orders, polychromy, chromatic research

Abstract

The use of colour has developed over time with the evolution of culture, the arts, commerce and the expansion of exchanges and knowledge on materials and construction techniques. In particular, in architecture, every intervention on new or existing buildings is conceived and realized without neglecting the chromatic aspect, both because colour represents a characteristic inherent in the material, and therefore inseparable from it, and because most of the time it is seen as an added value, which transcends the material itself and is expressed through different channels. If we think of the lively and extensive polychromy that covered the ancient architectures (here the interest is directed in particular to the Greek architecture), this presence can certainly contribute to a more correct definition of the overall architectural aspect. The idea that ancient Greek architecture was characterized by the absence of colour comes from a false vision; its origins are to be found in the dispute over the primacy of the arts, which arose during the Renaissance, which saw the opposition and a progressive estrangement between the “form” (seen as an instrument of ratio) and colour (the result of the most irrational temptations of the senses). Only in the mid-nineteenth century, in contrast to the current opinion still strongly conditioned by the neoclassical heritage, the theme of the use of colour in the restitution of an ancient building was addressed. This first and decisive stance was followed by heated discussions, but also numerous other contributions, solidly documented by archaeological evidence, which helped to overcome the residual resistance on the part of the most conservative scholars and to consolidate a less idealized image of the ancient buildings. The contribution analyzes the most significant phases within this process of re- appropriation of a more coherent and less idealized identity by ancient architecture, highlighting the importance of colour in the phases of reading and interpreting forms now lost.

Author Biography

Rossana Netti, Department of Architecture and Design, Polytechnic of Turin, Turin, Italy

Rossana Netti is an architect, Ph.D. in Cultural Heritage and since 2018 researcher at the Department of Architecture and Design (DAD) at the Polytechnic of Turin. Her research activity concerns the study of methods and advanced digital technologies for the survey, enhancement and communication of Cultural Heritage, from the acquisition of field data to their processing and integration in virtual reality environments.

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Published
2019-12-01
How to Cite
Netti, R. (2019) “The colours of the ancient Greek architecture”, Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 11(02), pp. 14-24. doi: 10.23738/CCSJ.110202.
Section
Papers