Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Human form

When comparing sculptures and art throughout any span of history, there is a general trend of an increase in complexity. (not necessarily the same for some modern art but this isn't about that.) This obviously isn't always true, however it can really be seen between the Kouros sculptures and the Hellenistic ones. The Kouros sculptures are well done and better than I could do, however they lack the realism that the hellenistic sculptures have. Hellenistic art has flowing draperies, alternative weight distribution, and varied facial expression which is a stark contrast to the simple cookie cutter smile and face of the kouros. Although they differ in complexity they share the overall theme of the perfect human form. The hellenistic sculptures seem to have chiseled bodies (pun sort of intended) and good posture with lavish clothing.  Although the kouros cannot compare to the beauty of the hellenistic pieces, they sill have that same attempt at perfection in the form of a human body. Why were the artists so obsessed with having perfect form? Were they unable to break the bonds of their modern society? Did they even want to waste their time creating something perfect to reflect the imperfect? Was the answer to this in the reading or discussed in class but I didn't notice?


TSHAH said...

I believe the emphasis of perfect forms on the body was due to the fact that this was the vision of an ideal man/women at the time. This idea could explain why the "perfect body" changed between the classical and Hellenistic age, given the depiction of "perfect" changed with the rise of new influences. Your question really got me thinking, so i did some research, and here is what i found - Kouros were sculptures that were made in the image of Apollo and were used to represent youth. A possible explanation for "why perfect forms?", could be that since the Kouros were made in the image of a god, they were to be ideal. (not sure if this has to do with anything, but Apollo is also the god of protecting the youth, and all the Kouros are made in the images of youth, so maybe the Kouros were made to represent Apollo's influence on the perfection of youth.)

Ben Bonner said...

I think the emphasis on perfect form and of the style of ancient Meditteranean art has alot to do with the religious and cultural context that existed. The gods of Greek and Roman society, while believed to be very powerful, were not portrayed as perfect. In myth, the gods frequently made mistakes ands errors in judgement. To the Greeks, this would have meant that just because they made mistakes they weren't innately flawed, and that therefore they could still strive for an ideal form. In contrast, Christianity teaches that everyone is inately flawed and that perfection is impossible. This is translated into mideival art. In midieval art, humans are not portrayed realistically and much of it is highly stylized. I think this is because of the cultural pessimism that was present during the middle ages as opposed to the more optimistic and humanistic climate of ancient Greece and Rome.