What is Hellenistic Art?

Hellenistic art is one that suffered the influence of Greek or Hellenic art. It emerged between the end of the fourth century BC. C., after the conquest of Alexander the Great over Greece, and the second century BC. C., when Roman Empire is imposed.

It corresponds to the third period of the classification of the art of classical antiquity. These are:

  • archaic period (8th to 5th centuries BC);
  • classical period (5th to 4th century BC);
  • Hellenistic period (centuries IV to II BC).

Laocoonte and his children . Authors: Agesandro, Polidoro and Atenodoro, Rhodes School.

2nd century BC C. 2.42 meters high. Copy in marble from the original piece, in bronze.

Characteristics of Hellenistic art

Hellenistic art was a fundamentally eclectic art , since it mixed both the aesthetic elements of Hellenic art and the culture of the different dominators (Asian and Western).

This was a consequence of the imperial vocation of Alexander the Great and his followers, as well as of the Romans. All of them were also admirers of the Hellenic culture.

Consequently, in this style you can see both intimate, solemn, common, colossal and small features.


An element of the Hellenistic sculpture is pathos, which neglects the austerity of the classical period. By pathos is understood the expression of anguish or suffering to generate shock. Thus, the sculptures of this period will be expressive, dynamic and full of tension, in search of greater naturalism and emotion.

The sculpture will be governed by the taste for naturalism and individualism, the care of exterior details, smooth skin, hair detail and muscle tension.

Thanks to this, it was at this moment in history that the sculptural portrait appeared. As an example we will cite the work Cabeza de Alejandro made by Lisipo.

In addition to Lisipo, the sculptors Aristónides y Filiscos, Agesandro, Atenodoro and Polidoro, recognized by the Laocoonte group , today restored.

Cares de Lindos, a student of Lysippus, will also be famous for creating the legendary 32-meter bronze sculpture called Colossus of Rhodes, barely known for stories.


In architecture, the austerity of the Doric order is also set aside and the Ionian and Corinthian orders will be favored, more recharged, by choosing an eclectic style.

It will also be common to observe the tension between European and Asian aesthetics, such as the use of the domed construction of Babylonian heritage.

As an example of Hellenistic architecture we can mention the altar of Zeus, in Pergamum, which dates from 180 BC. C. approximately.


In the painting we will observe the technique of colored marble mosaic, as well as the ceramics called tanagras, which are clay figurines. However, there are very few vestiges that last from this period.

In any of the disciplines, the value of the measure will continue to prevail. The sense of proportions is maintained even when other classic elements are challenged.

The stylistic tendency of Hellenistic-Asian art was a fundamental influence for the development of Christian art.