Olga Palagia delivered a webinar on behalf of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens on 1 April, on Macedonian painting.
She opposed basic patterns of Macedonian paintings to works of Greek art which in her opinion have a completely different artistic language, suggesting that Macedonian art is something different from Greek art.
I wish first of all to stress that, thanks to the find at Pella of an inscription in Macedonian dialect, we now know that the Macedonian was not an independent Indo-European language, but a Greek dialect, which was close to the dialects of north-western Greece. Thus the Macedonians were Greek speakers.
They believed on the same gods who were worshipped in the other Greek regions.
The fact that they were ruled by a monarchy and that the institution of the polis never became rooted in this region does not mean that they were not part of the Greek civilization because even the Greek oikoumene knew monarchies: at Sparta, at Salamis of Cyprus, at Cyrenae, at Syracuse, just to forward the first examples which cross my brain.
In the realm of visual arts, the Macedonian visual culture was shaped by important Greek artists, at least from the late 5th c. BC onwards: Zeuxis, Apelles, Lysippus Nicomachus, Heleni, etc. all worked in Macedonia and for Macedonian patrons. One of the most important painters of late classical times, Pamphylus, was from Amphipolis and was defined Macedonian by Pliny.
Of course any region of the Greek world has its own cultural peculiarities: the art of Ionia is not the same as the art of Attica, which is also very different from the art of the Greek colonies of Sicily, etc.
These regional variations cannot lead to the conclusion that for example the Ionian art is not Greek because it is very different from the art of Syracuse or of many other Greek important artistic centers. The pertinence of the various regions to a unified koine is due to the continuous exchange of experiences among the different areas of the Greek world and to the consciousness that all these people spoke Greek dialects, worshipped the same deities, understood each other, took part to the same Panhellenic festivals, in other words were all Greek.
In the same way, the art of the Italian Renaissance sees the presence in the same period of several different artistic languages: the art of Venice is very different not only from that of Florence but even from that of Padua which is only 30 km distant and was part of the same state. Despite that nobody ever asserted that the Venetian art is not Italian art!
The main peculiarities of the Macedonian visual culture consist in the importance of monumental tombs inside circular mounds, which betray the permanence in Macedonia of burial uses which were typical of the Mycenaean world but had disappeared in southern Greece from very long time, in the emphasis given to the cult of Dionysus, in the constructions of large palaces and in the lavish and large use of objects in precious metals: the two last peculiarities derive from the presence of a strong monarchic institution whose patronage conditions the highest manifestations of the local visual culture.
Thus it is fair to speak of a visual art with a local idiom inside the Greek art, with continuous exchanges with the videndae artes of other regions of the Greek world.
However we must reject the idea that Macedonian art is not Greek art as not scientific and contrary to common sense.
Originally posted 2021-04-04 19:52:11.