ART AND ARCHITECTURE - Some Questions and Suggested Answers J. Bulwer
(NB. Original article contained a number of references to illustrations which are no longer available. All picture references, therefore, are now to Woodford "An Introduction to Greek Art" to which most teachers will have access. D.Swift)
1.a) Identify and date the figures. (W.figs.44 - 58)
b) Explain the reason for the nickname given to the first statue. (W.73)
c) What evidence do these statues provide for the way Greek Sculpture originally looked?
a) Thesc figures are members of the series of archaic female ifigures known as korai. (This is the plural of the Greek word kore - - which means girl). An equivalent series of male statues (kouroi - - from kouros - - a youth) extends over much the same period. (see W.figs. 44-58) The female figures are always portrayed in clothes, whereas the male figures are always naked. The first figure is of marble, and was found on the Athenian Akropolis, buried after the Persian sack in 480, and is dated at about 540-530 (W;fig.72). the second figure is a little later, at about 530-515.
b) The statue is known as the Peplos kore. She gains this nickname from the garment she is wearing. The garment is woollen and is worn over the other standard form of dress - the chiton. The peplos consisted of a rectangle of wool, folded in half. It was pinned at the shoulders, and belted at the waist. The arms were thus left bare, and one side of ahe garrnent was open. It was folded down at the top, leaving an overfall to the waist. (W. fig.73)
c) The peplos was going out of fashion at this time, and was being overtaken by the chiton, which came from Ionia, across the Aegean Sea. Korai now begin to wear this garment, often with a cloak (himation) over the top. The head went through the central hole and the arms through those at the sides. (W.fig.70) The whole thing was again belted at the waist, often with some material hanging loose over the belt. This left a mass of cloth under the arms. Many korai wear this chiton with the himation - a rectangle of cloth tucked under the left arm, then pinned on top of the right shoulder, and let fall from there. (W.fig.71) The difference between the two garments can be seen on the Ludovisi Throne. The figure on the left is wearing a peplos, and the one on the right a chiton. Both the figures clearly show that Greek statues were originally painted, often in bright colours. The Peplos kore has dark hair, blue eyes, and red lips, with a belt painted onto the outside of the peplos. The second figure, known by its Catalogue number as Akropolis 675, has a coloured chiton, and many decorations and ornaments painted onto the rest of her clothes. It is a litle difficult for us to accept this fact, since we are used to modern sculptors letting the material they work in speak for itself without the help of paint on top. This feeling goes back to the Renaissance sculptors who rediscovered the ancient sculptures which by then had lost their colouring. They saw the possiblities of the natural material, and though the Greeks must have worked in the same way. Micheangelo had a feeling for the marble and said that the figure was already there, buried in the centre of the block: his task as sculptor was to release it from the surrounding stone. However, the Greeks did not think of sculpture in this way, and considered that painting was essential. There are often details missing from the statues, which we must mentally supply, where painting or the addition of metal has disappeared.
2. a) Identify the statue. (W. 44)
b) Where does it stand in the series of archaic nude male statues (kouroi)?
c) Describe the features which can help you give an approximate date to it
d) Compare it with another kouros of the late archaic period, or with a classical standing male statue. (W.103 - 107; W.189)
a) This is an archaic statue of a naked male standing youth to be found in the Metropolitan Museum, New York and therefore known as the New York kouros. (W.fig.44)b) The series of kouroi ( ) consists of a number of these archaic naked males. They are always portrayed as standing square to the spectator, nude with one leg advanced, usually the left. The stance has its origin in Egyptian statues where the figure often had a pillar for support behind it, and a loin-cloth, both of which have disappeared in the Greek adaptation. This statue, which is in almost perfect condition, stands at the very beginning of this series of kouroi. The series contains examples of this type of figure from the whole of the Sixth Century B.C. and this one is thought to be the earliest example of the kouros, and is therefore to be dated to the end of the seventh century, or the beginning of the sixth (615-590)
c) What enables us to give an approximate date to a statue of this kind is an evaluation of the anatomical detail to which the sculptor has gone in the sculpting. A comparison of the detail here with other statues in the same stance will enable us to establish a chronology into which each staue will fit, and the development of anatomical detail and expression will become clear. This statue stands at the beginning of the series because of the fairly crude technique of the artist. The anatomy of the male figure is sketched onto the outside of the statue rather than being fully understood and an organic part of the whole figure. Muscles on the torso are indicated by grooves and markings on the surface rather than being fully modelled. At the knees the knee-cap is shown with a symmetrical versionof the muscles of the thigh above. Most difficult of all are the anatomical details of the face - here the lips are imperfectly joined to the cheeks, the eyes are shown as flat with no indication of the eye-ball, and a ridge above for the eyebrow. The ears are still imperfectly ralised being rather attached to the skull, and lacking their full complex anatomy. In addition to these considerations, thc sculptor has not fully overcome all the difficulties of his craft. The hands are still firmly attached to the flanks, clenched with a little marble left inside the palms, and between the legs and the hands. The figure is block-like and square, as if the sculptor had gone in from the four sides of his marble block at right angles, leaving traces of the squareness on the finished statue. A comparison of the techniques at use here with those at use on other statues of the same type will show that this is one of the earliest of archaic Greek kouroi - it even has a little ribbon at its neck, and so is not completely naked, like the Egyptian forerunners, and the earlier Greek statues with loin-cloths, and tiny belts at the waist.
d) If the New York kouros is compared with the Kritian Boy (W.figs. 103-107) or with the Doryphoros of Polykleitos (W.fig.189) although this is a Roman copy of a Greek bronze original thc extent to which anatomical knowledge of the male figure has developed over a comparatively short time will be clear. The figure now has movement and the problems of detail and proportion have been solved.
3.a) Identify the figure, and give a reason for its name. (W.103)
b) With what series of figures does this statue have much in common?
c) Place this figure in this series, giving it an approximate date, and say how it differs from the majority of its members.
a) This statue is known as the Kritian Boy. It was found along with many other statues on the Akropolis, where it had been buried after the sack of the Akropolis by the Persians in 480. Its name derives from a similarity of the head with Roman copies of the group of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, the tyrannicides who killed the brother of the Athenian tyrant, Hippias. A Greek writer of the second century A.D.. Lucian, tells us that this group was the work of Kritios and Nesiotes. Hence the name of this statue - the Kritian Boy.
b) This statue has much in common with the series of archaic kouroi found in and around Athens during the sixth century B.C. These figures are all of naked young men, standing upright, arms to their sides, with the left leg slightly advanced. The series has been arranged into a chronological order, according to the development of the technique of the sculptors in portraying accurately the anatomy of the male body . The New York kouros (W.fig.44) is placed at the beginning of this series as an example of a block-like, four-square statue, on which anatomical detail has been portrayed by patterns, as it were sketched onto the outside of the figure.
c) This figure should come at the very end of the series of archaic Attic kouroi. During the sixth century and into the early fifth, the kouros figure remained essentially in the same stance. The anatomical accuracy and realism advanced, but the figures still looked straight ahead, kept their arms to their sides, with their left leg slightly advanced. Even a figure like the Strangford Apollo, which is anatomically quite advanced remains rooted like this. With the Kritian Boy a great change has occurred. The sculptor (Kritios?) has altered the way the statue looks at the viewer. No longer does he stare him in the eye, like all previous kouroi had done; but he turns his head away decorously to the right. No longer does he stand square to the spectator, but he has shifted his weight to his left leg, which results in the right leg being bent at the knee, in a swing of the hips and a slight movement of the torso. The kouroi in comparison are now stiff, unbending, unnaturally posed. The Kritian Boy stands as a real person stands, as anyone who has tried to adopt the pose of the kouros would realise after a short time. Attic sculptors seemed to have concentrated on getting the details of the anatomy right, while leaving their models fixed in a position which had not substantially altered since they had taken it over from the Egyptians. Only when the anatomical problems were solved, for the most part, did they turn their attention in free-standing sculpture to altering the pose of thc figure. For this figure does not move away from the stance of the kouros for any dramatic reason, as happens in architectural sculpture in the archaic period. The Kritian Boy has broken the tradition for no other reason than because his sculptor has something new to say in the portrayal of the nude, free-standing male. In this one statue it is possible to see the archaic style changing into that of the Early Classical. Kenneth Clark ('The Nude' p.29) has called this statue "the first beautiful nude in art."
4. a) Identify the figure. What part does he play in the group of which he is a member? (W. fig.l32) b) Describe the way he is portrayed differently from the majority of contemporary figures.
c) Why is he shown in a sitting position?
a) This figure is found on the East Pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The group as a whole (W.fig.127) shows the moment before the action begins in the story of Pelops and Oinomaos. Before he will allow his daughter to marry, Oinomaos challenges her suitors to a chariot race. Since his horses are invincible, Oinomaos has no fear of losing the race; but in this case, Pelops has bribed his charioteer, Myrtilos, to replace the lynch-pins of the chariot- wheels with wax ones. These will melt when the chariot is going at speed, the chariot will crash, and Oinomaos will be killed. All this is in the future at the moment portrayed in the sculpture. Yet the look of surprise and wonder on this old man's face seems to indicate that he knows what is going to happen. For this reason he is thought to represent a seer, or prophet. Perhaps he is Iamos, the founder of a family of local prophets.
b) Greek sculpture tends to dwell on the ideal. The central figure in the pediment opposite to this one shows clearly enough. There Apollo is shown beautiful, calm, intelligent, youthful -a classic god-like figure. Male statues tend to look like this - for a time the archaic kouroi were called "Apollos", because they seemed to represent a god-like figure. yet this old man on the Olympia pediment is old, fat, balding. Certainly there is wisdom in the face, but he is hardly an ideal figure. The Olympia pediments tell a story. The West is a straightforward tale of violence and the moment of action - the fight of the Lapiths and Centaurs - is portrayed. The East pediment hints at the story to come, and the seer is perhaps the clearest indication that some dreadful event is about to occur. It would not be enough for this artist to present a collection of figures grouped loosely round a theme - like the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina, where the exploits of Greek heroes at Troy are shown (W. fig.36-37) - he has chosen a dramatic situation, and the need to invest his drama with a little more tension has made him break away from the usual idealistic portrayal. There had been some experimentation with characterization before - on the Temple of Aphaia there is a dying warrior with one eye half closed in pain; but here this old man is involved dramatically with the other figures on the pediment and with the spectator too. He is the link between them, telling the spectator what is going to happen, after the scene he sees before him has taken place.c) Greek temples had to have sloping rooves so that the rain would drain away. A sloping roof creates, with the horizontal line of the top of the architrave, a triangular shape. This shape is characteristic of the Doric order of Greek temples (W. fig.27) which was the order in which most Greek temples were built. An ornate and expensive Doric temple would be decorated with sculpture, perhaps on the metopes around the whole of the architrave, at points on the roof, perhaps with a continuous frieze somewhere, and certainly in the triangular spaces at the ends of the building. The Greeks knew this as the aetos ( ) or eagle; in English the gable or pediment. It is a tempting space for the sculptor to use, but it causes him problems. How is he to fill up the spaces in the corners? How is he to arrange the height of the figures so that they remain in the same scale? The reason that the seer is in a sitting position is that he is placed halfway along the pediment where the roof is beginning to slope down The artist solves the problem of the middle of the pediment by having a god there who is justifiably taller than the mortals; and the problem of the corners by having the two river gods of Olympia reclining there framing the scene.
5.a) Where is this figure to be found? (W. fig.136)
b) Who is she, and what is happening to her?
c) Why does she bear the expression she does?
d) Compare her with a contemporary piece of sculpture which shows similarity of style and treatment.
a) This is the head of a figure found on the West pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.
b) She is called Deidameia and she is getting married to Peirithoos, who is to be found elsewhere on this pediment. Peirithoos invited his cousins, the Centaurs, to his wedding. These creatures - half man, half horse - were unused to human company and to wine; and so they got very drunk and belligerent. They began to attack and rape the women at the wedding, and Peirithoos with his friend Theseus, and the other members of his family, the Lapiths - had to fight them off. This pediment shows the battle at its height, with Apollo, statuesque in the centre, and carefully interrelated groups of women, Lapiths, and Centaurs on either side.
c) Deidameia is in the grip of the leader of the Centaurs, Eurytion, with her husband-to-be, Peirithoos, coming to her rescue. These make up a group of three on the right of the centre of the pediment. For one who is in such a dangerous and dramatic situation, she wears a remarkably calm expression. She would obviously be expected to show one of several emotions, either fear, panic, or anger, as she is being sexually attacked by a weird monster on her wedding day. Yet she shows none of these, and rather shows a complete absence of emotion - a calm, serene acceptance of her fate. Emotion is shown elswhere on the pedimenton the other faces. The Centaurs grimace in pain as does the Lapith on Deidameia's left. The seer on the East pediment (W.fig 132) has a complex expression on his face. Why then this complete absence of emotion here? Does it weaken the effect of the whole pediment? What is the artist trying to portray here? The Olympia sculptures show a departurc in style from thc archaic sculpture of the sixth century. These statues often had a cheerful expression, shown by the "archaic smile", which is to be seen on many of the kouroi and korai of the archaic series. This smile, which results in the first place from the difficulty of the sculptor in portraying the mouth effectively, has now disappeared and a more profound and peaceful expression has taken its place. This expression can be seen on many sculptures of this period (480-450) and the style has been called the severe style. It can be seen at Olympia on the face of the Apollo from the West pediment, and on the terracotta group of Zeus and Ganymede. This girl's head is clearly an example of the severe style. However, to put the head in its art-historical category, is not to answer the original question fully and some may feel that her lack of involvement in her immediate situation weakens the effect of the whole pediment. It may be of help to look at the Apollo at the centre of this composition. He could be said to be expressionless, and he certainly does share this severity of expression with Deidameia. However, he does play a part in the composition as a whole. He does not interfere with the fighting, but he does show some kind of divine alliance with the Greeks. They do not need him to take their side for they are perfectly competent to deal with these drunken, barbarian monsters themselves. It will be noticed that the Greeks too have this calm expression. It is perhaps a triumph (still to come, but inevitable) of civilisation over barbarism that Apollo reflects. He knows it will happen, although he does not take an active part, and lets the Greeks use their skill and courage to bring it about. Deidameia is part of this inevitable victory, and so the portrayal of any kind of strong emotion would be quite out of place.
6. a) Identify the incident portrayed in these two picture. Why is this particular story chosen? (W. fig.l34 and 162 ?)
b) From which two temples do these sculptures come?
c) How do the artist adapt their compositions to the space available to them?
d) Which do you think is the more succesful composition?
a) The incident portrayed here in these two pieces of sculpture is the fight between the Lapiths and the Centaurs on the occasion of Peirithoos's marriage to Deidameia . This was a popular subject for Greek sculptors to carve, and is found in many places, often adorning a temple as architectural sculpture. Apart from the West pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, and the metope of the Parthenon, shown here, this scene is found portrayed on the frieze of the Temple of Apollo Epikourios at Bassae and on the Temple of Hephaistos at Athens. It was popular perhaps, because it enabled the sculptor to show off his virtuosity at a difficult subject - that of a monster combining man and horse, which is never an easy thing to bring off; and also for him to show off the ideal male nude figure to its best advantage. In battle the Lapiths - representing the ideal Greek - show their virtues: courage, calmness, strength, against a monstrous and barbarian opponent. Later the popularity of this subject comes second only to the battle of the Greeks and Amazons, where the sculptor can again show his skill at the ideal male figure - this time in conflict with an ideal female figure (see fig.l6)
b) In the first picture the artist is carving pictures for a pediment; but in the second for a metope. The pediment is a shallow triangular shape formed by the pitch of the roof with the horizontal line of the architrave. The metope is a square shape; the sculptured metope is to fill the gap left between the triglyphs, which support the roof on the architrave. The Olympia sculptor, therefore, has chosen to carve a group which will fit into one of the corners, and slope downwards in order to fit in. He has a group of three: Lapith girl, a Centaur, whose back has been fiercely bent back in a sharp curve. The Lapith attacks him with a bronze sword (which is now missing); he is the most horizontal figure, stretched out but braced on his right knee, to thrust home the sword. The group thus describes a triangular shape, with the girl forining a block at one end, with the line on the hypotenuse, as it were, formed by the girl's head, the Centaur's head, and the Lapith's body. This triangular shape is to fit into the right hand corner of the pediment. Yet within this triangular shape the artist has made a rhythm like the motion of a wave - down the girl's body, up the Centaur's ( this is the reason for the sharply bent back), and then down the Lapith's. The Parthenon artist, on the other hand, has a square space to fill, and so he chooses to portray only two figures: the Lapith and the Centaur - there are no females on the Parthenon metopes at all. His pair of figures are locked in combat, with the Centaur in the dominant position. The square outlines of the metope have dictated the lines of the composition with the Lapith fitting neatly into the bottom right angle, and the Centaur also broadly at a right angle above him. They are linked in combat by the diagonals of their outstretched arms.
c) This metope has not come off very well at all. Thc artist has not filled the space evenly, but has concentrated the action into a small corner, and left vast spaces at the top. The two figures have no energy in them, and they do not seem to be moving against each other with any force. Their arms could merely be stretching out to touch each other lightly. There is no sense of power behind a fighting blow, in either figure. Theye are brushing each other with their knuckles rather than punching. These Lapith and Centaur metopes are overall the weakest of the Parthenon sculptures, although some do burst into life. Compared with this the Olympia group, with its internal rhythm and energy is a far more successful composition.