Oops! I tried to keep it short. But:
(1) Cult images don't count. The view from the cella doorway remained the principal one, even when the evolution of the artists' own ideas meant that the statue was made to be interesting from other angles.
(2) You have let yourself lapse into unrealistic thinking about the Chinese
. Buddhist images are strictly governed and frontal in exactly the same way as just described, but they're hardly native Chinese
! Indeed cult-image religion is not Chinese
. If I can find my set of Chinese
University Prints, I'll scan something that IS native to China
(3) The kind of four-sided three-dimensionality that IS characteristic of both Egyptian
and Greek substantive sculpture
is due to their starting out with a quarried block; the natural formation of the stone
augmented by the ancient techniques of freeing the blocks (rows of holes drilled, swollen wet wooden pegs, > straight fracture, still
used in many quarries) produced the four-sided blocks ideal for transport and for building--and many of the sculptures themselves were addorsed and part
of the building. They drew on the front and sides (the back was left as a slab for strength) and worked inwards. Greeks
learned this from Egyptians, and, though they rebelled from it within a couple of centuries, something of this workshop-conditioned bias remained.
(4) For all their pervasive influence, both Chinese
and Greek are highly exceptional. In their different ways, the 'classic' ages of both are grounded in empirical observation: not just imitation, but deeply empirical thought. These two traditions both make an art form of Space as such (though in both, too, mannered defiances of it occur from time to time), each in its own way. Both make an art form of kinetics, too. This is not something that can be developed in an explanatory essay or, perhaps, even in a single book. I also have omitted Indian, especially Hindu, sculpture
, because my whole life long I never have been able to relate it, except speciously
, to the other great traditions; similarly, the cultural traditions that are not image-centered exist in their own terms. By 'image centered' in the last sentence, I mean centered on our experiences of seeing as such. Empirical. The experience of seeing and of being in space, whether its Fan Kuan or an Italian
Renaissance painting grounded in perspective. Our science, too, is based on the empirical (even half of our metaphysics is).
Well, you can spend the rest of your life thinking about how we think and how we see. Somewhere in all this is a place for why we make figural art (sometimes masterpieces) on our money--not at all an obvious choice
H. W. F. Saggs quoted, and attributed to G. K. Chesterton (who, as I'm sure you know, was a Roman
Catholic) the statuemt, "Perspective is the Comic element in everything and, as such, is always left out of Tragic and Religious art". Or did he say "...official art"? I tried to remember this from decades ago, and I don't know where Saggs got it. I understood it to mean that Comedy is detached, while Tragedy is 'involved'; in comedy, it's the relationships that take priority: Comedy is objective, Tragedy is subjective. And you can't be detached when you're a pompous despot--nor yet when you are worshiping. Just like Chesterton to say something that way (similarly, the late Wm. Buckley).