Art History Survey I
8 December, 2012
The Development of the Figure in Ancient Greek Sculpture
Sculptures were one of the main forms of expression in Greek culture, despite the great artistic merits in the field of concept, form, and technique; sculpture was an amazing advantage being a vehicle of communication and alsoillustrating the values of the Greek society. They were related to several areas of life, such as religion, politics, science, decoration, sports, education etc. The development of the figure in Ancient Greek Sculpture from the Geometric/Archaic to the Hellenistic period reflects not only a visual artistic and expressional improvement, but a whole range of cultural and social development as well;which can be synthesized by comparing and contrasting pieces from different periods in Greek Sculpture. The title of the chosen sculpture is “Kouros” by Tenea, c. 570 b.c. it was composed of Marble and was approximately 60`` high”, and is now held at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich (De la Croix and Tansey 116).
The second sculpture is titled “Nike of Samothrace” c.190 made of Marble itis approximately 8` high and is now held at Louvre, Paris (De la Croix and Tansey 144).
Description & Analysis
The first chosen sculpture is “Kouros”; Kouros is the name given to representations of young man, which first appeared in the archaic period in Greece.
This piece is mainly a geometric-like figure of a young man standing in a half step dividing its weight in a symmetricalbalanced composition. Special care is given to applying real human proportions to the sculpture, and a notion of reality and accuracy is pursued. Its standing position and straightforwardness give the piece a stiff feeling
It`s details are carefully carved in marble in the knees, foot and face, in order to look as real as possible. The piece in general fits a well composed design, relating to areal body structure, despite the increased length of the leg lines. Its standing position can easily cause this archaic Greek piece to be misunderstood as an Egyptian sculpture, given the structural position of the body and its stiffness.
The second chosen sculpture is “Nike of Samothrace” It is a dramatic representation of a powerful woman`s body in a goddess-like way composing a well-designedpiece. The proportions are perfectly accurate and its perspective is mastered in relation to the sculpture`s setting. The body twists slightly as if to maintain its balance, and it projects itself forward as if it had just made a glorious landing. This sculpture in particular is an excellent example of the expressive, motion-like, Hellenistic style. The lively drapery, twisting pose, and dramaticsetting create a dynamic composition, where feeling, action, drama, tragedy and setting can be easily imagined. The missing parts of the body such as the head and the arms become almost meaningless details, given the mastery of the Hellenistic spirit represented all along the main part of the body carved with meticulous detail.
Visually comparing the sculptures described, both are carved in thesame media, which represents, despite the considerable gap of years between the artworks, marble was found a very suitable and useful media for sculptures in Greece. Both sculptures have the intention to represent body movement, and a huge technical and artistic development is seen contrasting both of them in this point. In “Kouros” the archaic smile and the one step, is presented in order toimply movement and liveliness. In “Nike of Samothrace” the twisting hips, action position, excellent body proportion, and the amazing drapery fluttering, carving the body below it, are features used to represent this now sophisticated sense of movement, power, knowledge and majesty. Contrasting the two presented sculptures, it should be noted the attempt to create accurate physical lines, looking...