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Art History Greek Art - Essay Example

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Of the numerous and brilliant art pieces found at the Metropolitan Museum, two sculptures have stood out and have drown me to them. They are the Marble Statue of a Kouros and the Cycladic Standing Female Figure, both of which are made of marble. They look delicate yet imposing.
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Art History Greek Art
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"Art History Greek Art"

Download file to see previous pages (51.6 cm). It has the following description: "This kouros is one of the earliest marble statues of a human figure carved in Attica. The rigid stance, with the left leg forward and arms at the side, was derived from Egyptian art. The pose provided a clear, simple formula that was used by Greek sculptors throughout the sixth century B.C. In this early figure, geometric, almost abstract forms predominate, and anatomical details are rendered in beautiful analogous patterns. The statue marked the grave of a young Athenian aristocrat." (metmuseum.org). The creator is unknown and it is a statue of a standing nude youth that did not represent any one individual youth but the idea of youth. It was used in Archaic Greece as both a dedication to the gods in sanctuaries and as a grave monument, the standard kouros stood with his left foot forward, arms at his sides, looking straight ahead. Carved in from four sides, the statue retained the general shape of the marble block. Archaic Greek sculptors reduced human anatomy and musculature in these statues to decorative patterning on the surface of the marble. The kouros embodies many of the ideals of the aristocratic culture of Archaic Greece. One such ideal of this period was arete, a combination of moral and physical beauty and nobility. Arete was closely connected with kalokagathia, literally a composite term for beautiful and good or noble. Writing in the mid 500s B.C., the Greek poet Theognis summed this idea up as "What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved." In a society that emphasized youth and male beauty, the artistic manifestation of this world view was the kouros. Indeed, when the poet Simonides wrote about arete in the late 500s, he used a metaphor seemingly drawn from the kouros: "In hand and foot and mind alike foursquare/ fashioned without flaw" (getty.edu).
Looking closely at the Kouros, one can see how the artist was struggling to represent the complex anatomical details of the body. It has some Egyptian such as the knee and wrist. "But he has cut lines into the lower legs to show the calf muscles, even though the human form has no such incisions, and from the back, the shoulders appear as a simple, flat plane, with just a linear indication for the shoulder planes. The artist wasn't able to convey the complex swellings of these forms. On the head, all the features are placed on the front plane, leaving flat sides with an ear placed much too far back. This is a mistake many beginning art students make. But he has made a beautiful design of the complex structure of an ear, and turned the curly long hair into lovely strings of beads" (ancient-greece.org).
The kouros is controversial because of some features which were not in line with the age it was created. At a conference in 1992, art historians and scientists on the authenticity of the kouros. The question remains: "Is it an archaic Greek statue with a faked provenance, or a forgery with a faked provenance" (itarp.uiuc.edu).
On the other hand, the Standing Female Figure dates back to ca. 2600-2400 B.C.; Early Cycladic II Cycladic; Keros-Syros culture. It is made of marble with the size H. 24 3/4 in. (62.8 cm) and is said to be a gift of Christos G. Bastis in 1968 (68.148).
This early Cycladic sculpture is said to be of the Spedos variety, the most common and most widely distributed form in Cycladic marble art. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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