A kouros is a statue of a standing nude youth that did not represent any one individual youth but the idea of youth. 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. - The Getty Museum
Getty Kouros, ca. 530 BCE, or modern forgery.
Marble, 81 1/8" x 21 1/2".
The Archaic or "Kouros" smile Calf-bearer, ca. 560 BCE. Marble, 65" high. Kroisos (Kouros from Anavysos), ca. 530 BCE. Marble, height 6' 4".
Berlin Kore, ca. 570 - 560 BCE. Marble with remnants of red paint, height 6' 3".
Kore in Ionian dress, from the Acropolis, Athens, ca. 520 - 510 BCE. Marble, 1' 9" high.
Reconstruction of a painted Kore
Along with a newly developed taste for monumental sculpture, Archaic period produces starkly different tradition in vase painting. By mid-sixth century, Athenian painters adopt black-figure style from Corinthians.
- Silhouette design against red colored clay
- Internal details scratched with needle-like tool
- Technique favors a decorative, two-dimensional effect
Corinthian black-figure amphora with animal friezes, from Rhodes, ca. 625 - 600 BCE. 1' 2" high.
Exekias, Dionysos in a Boat. Interior of an Attic black-figured kylix, ca. 540 BCE. Diameter 12".
Greek Pantheon "Man is the measure of all things." - Protagoras Zeus supreme god and god of the sky Hera goddess of marriage, and married women Poseidon god of the sea Demeter goddess of corn, fruit and agriculture Apollo god of the sun, music and poetry Artemis goddess of the moon, hunting and chastity Athena goddess of wisdom, law, math, war strategy Aphrodite goddess of love and beauty Hermes god of eloquence and speech Ares god of war Dionysus god of wine and merrymaking Zeus, seated on a rock, gives birth to the god Dionysos from his thigh. Hermes stands by holding the royal sceptre of his father in one hand, and in his other, his own herald’s wand. Attic Red Figure, ca. 470 - 460 BCE.
Common Greek Vessel Shapes and Uses amphora transportation of goods hydria water jar olpe pitcher krater mixing wine and water lekythos ceremonial oil jar oinochoe pouring wine kantharos cup for drinking kylix cup for drinking, sometimes purely decorative
Limitations of black-figure style led to development of red-figure style, gradually replacing black-figure style by 500 BCE.
- Red figures against black background
- Forms drawn with brush or by squeezing paint through animal bladder
- Allows for greater detail and realism
- Consequently, see far less use of profile view
- Allows for greater foreshortening and three-dimensional effects
- Less tedious technique allowed more freedom
Theseus Slaying The Minotaur, Amphora, 460 BCE.
Psaiax, Herakles Wrestling the Nemean Lion, amphora, ca. 525 BCE. Euphronios, Herakles Wrestling Antaios, Athenian red-figure calyx krater from Cerveteri, Italy, ca. 510 BCE.
Exekias, Achilles and Ajax Playing a dice game, black-figure amphora, from Vulci, Italy,
ca. 540 - 530 BCE. 2' high.
Andokides Painter, Achilles and Ajax playing a dice game, from Orvieto, Italy. Red-figured side.
ca. 523 - 520 BCE. 1' 9" high.
Douris, Eos and Memnon, Interior of an Attic red-figured kylix. ca. 490 – 480 BCE. Diameter 10 ½".
Ancient Greece in Context Geometric Style after 900 to 700 BCE 776 BCE First Olympic games Archaic Period 600 - 480 BCE First life-size Greek statues with "Archaic smile" Innovations in black and red-figure vase painting Construction of oldest peripteral Doric and Ionic temples 750 - 700 BCE Homer writes the Iliad and the Odyssey Orientalizing Style 700 to 600 BCE 563 BCE Siddhartha (founder of Buddhism) born in Nepal 510 - 508 BCE Athens establishes first democracy, "deme" Classic Period ca. 480 to 323 BCE 480 - 479 BCE Persians invade Greece, Athenians defeat Persians at the Battle of Marathon Polykleitos formulates canon of proportions Corinthian order introduced in temple architecture after 447 BCE Athenians rebuild the Acropolis 431 - 404 BCE Peloponnesian Wars/ Sparta conquers Athens 363 BCE Alexander the Great comes to power and begins to spread Greek ways across the East Hellenistic Period 323 to 30 BCE
The Classic Period
ca. 480 - 323 BCE
Calf-bearer, ca. 570 BCE. Marble, 65" high. Kroisos (Kouros from Anavysos), ca. 525 BCE. Marble, height 6'4". Kritios Boy, ca. 480 BCE. Marble, height 46".
contrapposto = the disposition of the human figure in which one part is turned in opposition to another part (usually hips and legs one way, shoulders and chest another), creating a counterpositioning of the body along its central axis. not a contrapposto pose contrapposto pose
Polykleitos, Doryphoros (Spear Bearer), Roman copy after an original of ca. 450 - 440 BCE.
Marble, 6' 11" high.
Polykleitos' principle of symmetria In the mid fifth century BCE, the sculptor Polykleitos of Argos set out make a "perfect" statue constructed according to an all-encompassing mathematical formula, the Pythagorean theorem. - Janson's "[Beauty consists] in the proportions, not the elements, but of the parts, that is to say, of finger to finger, and of all the fingers to the palm and the wrist, and of these to the forearm, and of the forearm to the upper arm, and of all the other parts to each other" - Gardner's History of Art
Riace Warrior A, found in the sea off Riace, Italy, ca. 450 BCE. Bronze, height 6' 8". Riace Warrior B, found in the sea off Riace, Italy, ca. 450 BCE. Bronze, height 6' 8".
Zeus (or Poseidon), ca. 460 - 450 BCE. Bronze, 6' 10" high.