What Are Some Characteristics of Byzantine Art?

Byzantine art is almost entirely concerned with religious expression. Specifically, Byzantine artists want to translate church theology into artistic terms. The purpose of Byzantine art was to glorify the Christian religion and express its mystery, so it is filled with spiritual symbolism. Byzantine art displays a love of splendor, balanced compositions and a lack of depth or perspective. The figures appear stylized with little emotion.

Byzantine art is the art of the Eastern Roman empire, extending from the founding of Constantinople in 330 A.D. until 1453, when the city was captured by the Turks. Byzantine art was a combination of classical Western and Eastern art. Greek and Roman artists were interested in making the human body look as realistic as possible. Eastern artists made flat patterns and used glowing colors. Byzantine artists were not interested in realism and developed a formal style in which the body is just another part of the flat design. The Byzantine church did not approve of sculpture in the round, fearing it would recall the idols of Greek and Roman religions, so the few Byzantine sculptures produced are mostly done in relief. Byzantine art is known for its beautiful mosaics and the sophistication of style in its paintings, which was the result of a rigid tradition of art.