Exekias

Exekias
flourished с 540–520 BC, Greece

Greek potter.

He was the most famous of the black-figure vase painters (see black-figure pottery). His name is found on 13 surviving vases. He is known for his elegant drawing; his greatest gift was for conveying pathos and insight rather than overt action. Some 40 unsigned vases are attributed to him on stylistic grounds. He also made clay plaques designed to decorate tombs.

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▪ Greek artist
also spelled  Execias 
flourished c. 550–525 BC
 
 Greek potter (Greek pottery) and painter who, with the Amasis Painter, is considered the finest and most original of black-figure (black-figure pottery) masters of the mid-6th century BC and is one of the major figures in the history of the art. He signed 13 vases (2 as painter and potter and 11 as potter). The commonest inscription on the vases is “Exekias epoiēsen me” (“Exekias made me”).

      On Exekias' amphora in the Vatican, the vase represents Achilles and Ajax playing a board game on one side. On the other side is a young man, Castor, with his horse, Kyllaros; other figures are his mother, Leda, his father, Tyndareus, and his twin brother, Pollux (Polydeuces).

      The second amphora “made and decorated” by Exekias is at Berlin. On one side Heracles is shown wrestling with the Nemean lion. On the other side are two Attic warriors, Demophon and Akamas, the sons of Theseus. This was probably one of Exekias' earliest works. Parts of it have been restored.

      It is not certain how many of the nine remaining vases inscribed as “made by” Exekias were also painted by him.

      Some unsigned vases (his total known output is only about 40 vases) have been attributed to Exekias on the basis of their stylistic relation to the Vatican amphora. Foremost among these are an amphora in Boulogne, Fr., illustrating the death of Ajax, and a calyx krater (a vessel used for mixing wine with water) at Athens. This calyx krater is probably the earliest example of this pottery shape, which may have been Exekias' own invention.

      In addition to vases, Exekias was responsible for a set of clay plaques, about 15 inches high, of funerary scenes, designed to decorate a tomb. A kylix (a shallow drinking cup) now in Munich, of a type just coming into use in Exekias' time, also carries the potter's signature and depicts Dionysus reclining in a ship.

      Exekias' grand, calm depiction of tragic themes, qualified by his attention to psychological tension, ensures him a central place in any account of the basic tendencies of ancient Greek art.

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Universalium. 2010.

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