The ideals of human bodies
Lim Yu Jing
Art History Kristtel Martin 2 October 2012
1.Consider the Greek fascination with creating the perfect human body as you analyze briefly three key sculptural examples from the Hellenistic Age of ancient Greece. Relate to what extent these key sculptures may help to define the idealistic meaning of ‘perfect balance of beauty, harmony and proportion’ to fine artists for this century.
Ancient Greeks were not only superb with philosophy and mathematics but also they were extremely influential in terms of their body sculptures. They believed in theirs gods and goddess taking human forms and therefore created many amazing beautiful bodies. Not only do they want to see their gods in realistic form, they also wanted their gods to be able to watch them and hear their prayers. There was something similar about them compared to the Egyptian culture in the way they approached body forms. The Egyptians were focusing a lot on being orderly with precision and the Ancient Greece were fixated with the human body. Nowadays our modern preoccupation with social idealistic bodies, hitting to the gym so as to be able to have supermodel, ‘perfect’ bodies, finds its real origin here, in the ancient Greek city.
First I’ll talk about a key sculpture in the Hellenistic era that speaks to the Hellenistic ideal. Instead of previous periods of rather stiff and serene sort of sculpture, this Hellenistic sculpture shows more free flowing movement, strong diagonals that dominate the whole composition and extreme intense emotions that are more often exaggerated.
“The strangling of Laocoon and his two sons by sea serpents while sacrificing at an altar. The gods who favored the Greeks in the war against Troy had sent the serpents to punish Laocoon, who had tried to warn his compatriots about the danger of bringing the Greeks’ wooden horse within the walls of their city.”
The composition of this sculpture intentionally shows an emphasis on the middle. Both of the sons at the side are shown much smaller in terms of size. The serpents in the sculpture not only gave layering to the space but also act as a linkage to all three men. The attention to details was amazing, even without looking at the feet; I can tell that they were all in pain because the bodies itself were twisting in agony and showing extreme tension in the muscles. Laocoon and sons body muscles are well defined with a six-pack abs and cut pectorals. The torso reveals the iliac crest showing a line running above the groin area. Their thighs are strong with power and calves sharply articulated. What is even more impossible is that the muscles are fully flexed and perfectly etched even with their weight leaning on one side of their bodies. This shows how the sculpture intentionally exaggerated the muscles yet remained proportionate to show the beauty and perfection of the human body.
The next sculpture I am going to talk about is the famous and beautiful Venus de milo. “One of the most famous examples of sculpture from Ancient Greece, the Venus de Milo is an armless marble statue of Aphrodite - the Greek goddess of love and beauty - which was sculpted during the Hellenistic period between about 130 and 100 BCE.”
Venus de milo standing in a contrapposto position, her body slightly twisting to the right, hips thrusting outwards. Hence, creating a very beautiful s shaped curve and this spiral composition is visually appealing to the eye. The contrast between the texture of the ruffled drapery and her smooth marble skin gives dynamics to the work itself. The drapery that threatens to slip off entirely on her torso gives the audience a kind of tension, which is sort of an imminent movement. Her body is elongated and her body contrasts with the shading of the drapery. Although in such relaxed position, her abs are still clearly defined, which shows how the Greek sculpture emphasis on each detail to create a perfection of the human body....
Citations: Helen, Gardner. Gardner 's Art Through The Ages: The Western Perspective,. Neil , Collins. Accessed October 2, 2012. http://www.visual-artscork.com/sculpture/venus-de-milo.htm. Accessed October 2, 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riace_bronzes.
Bilbography http://www.thenagain.info/webchron/westciv/hellenisticsculpture.html http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/301176.html http://digital.films.com/play/J4U632 http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Arts/RiaceWarrior.htm http://artandaesthetics.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/laocoon-an-analysis/ http://www.sikyon.com/sicyon/Polykleitos/polycl_egpg1.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polykleitos
The Laocoon group. Marble. 1st century A.D.
Venus de Milo Alexandros of Antioch 130-100 BC
Bronzi di Riace 460–430 B
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