The Greek Marble Statue of a Kouros (Youth) (Figure.1) and the Roman Marble Statue of a Youth (Figure.2)areamong the statues found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met). They are among the sculptures of ancient Greek and Roman cultures that have beautifully represented human figures. Both sculptures are made from marble, and are fascinating statues of youth in a rigid upright stance. Sculpture,as a form of art, has been considered to be beautiful from very early times. This three-dimensional art form is still popular today and is used in different circles such as in religious and social circles. The Greek Marble Statue of a Kouros (Youth) was made in the Archaic period in 590–580 B.C. In contrast, the Roman Marble Statue of a Youth was made in the High classical period, the first A.D. The nude statues realistically represent images of the human body in its true form. Nevertheless, the statues are very different in how they achieve their main purpose. The two statues were used by the Romans and the Greeks to display certain values they had in their communities. The statues have different approaches to the sculpting process, partly because they were made in different periods. The statues’ stance was derived from the Egyptian sculpting process to show a man with the left foot forward. The paper will compare and contrast these two sculptures through form, context, content, historical style, and merits of work.
The Greek Marble Statue a Kouros (Youth)was made using geometric patterns that are almost abstract in form.The geometric features used represent anatomical, predominant, and multipart details of the pelvic curves and torso muscles. The human figure represents beautiful features in similar patterns. Focusing our attention to the features of the head, we are able to identify that the features are placed on the front plane leaving flat cheeks with the ears curved far back close to the hair strands. The ear was carved out beautifully with a complex design. The long curly hair is beautifully represented by strings of carved beads.
The Greek Marble Statue of a Kouros reveals the artist’s strong and thoughtful image of the nakedness of a growing young man. The sculpture depicts the actual image of an individual taking a step forward. The artist showsthe youth’sprowess by detailing his subject’s masculinity through geometric forms. We are able to see a slim figure of musculature that perfectly balanced. The Greek marble statue represents an upward movement and stability since it is able to stand on its own. The sculpture produces an over-life size image with some visible weight. Geometry seems to be the dominant factor used by the artist. The body of the Greek youth is proportional all round. The statue looks not totally naturalistic because of the use of specific geometric forms that help to represent a real human figure: the triangle of the torso, the linear toes, the circle of hair curls. The artist also used almost round and straight lines to represent the statue’s limbs and body parts.
The Roman Marble Statue of a Youthrepresents a young man who has a slightly curved figure with arms and broken legs.The boy’s mutilated body parts the result of the destruction of time, draw the viewer’s attention before the eyes wander to the rest of the statue.The body was sculptured with rounded body parts resembling real human body structure. The hair was made with carved curls that are short with the head bent toward one side. The left foot, broken at the knee, rests on a raised bar that acts as the base. The other right leg has no foot. The remaining part also rests on a bar that acts as a base. Both bases, not part of the original statue, provide stability for the statue. The sculpture gives out a sense of immediacy. This is because we are able to feel the physical presence of the personality presented to us by the artist. A sense of immediacy also arises from the point that the observer is able to see the human figure as it really is in space. The sculptor used great artistry in polishing the marble to develop real and surface textures. The head, bent towards the right and facing down away from the observer, is covered with curls of hair that nearly cover the ears. The lips are a realistic representation of normal human lips as they are shut in what seems like a smile.
Despite having no legs or feet to stand on, the statue gives a feeling of forward movement. Through his choice of texture, the artist represents a form of naturalness, and not some form of a supernatural structure that is not ordinary to the human body. His posture seems natural and relaxed, and the shape of his muscles in his torso suggests a strong young man. There is a form of commonality that the structure develops between the observer and the sculpture’s personhood. We see no distance between the observer and the statue. The open eyes of the statue make the observer feel close to the figure.
There is a feeling of movement and forwardness in the two sculptures. The sculpture of both sculptures develops a connection between the observer and the sculpture’s humanness. We see no distance between the observer and the statue. The statues are similar in the way they take their stance: they both have their left leg forward and are in a forward movement. They are both representations of a youth,even though the Greek statue is much taller than the Roman.
Through the choice of texture the Roman sculpture represents more naturalness than the Greek does, which is made with almost unnaturally straight limbs. The two statues are different in the way they are erected. The Roman has a height of 45 3/4 in. (116.2 cm) while the Greek’s height without plinth is 76 5/8 in. (194.6 cm). The Roman Marble Statue of a Youth is a slightly curved figure. Because the statue has several missing body parts, it is supported by metal rods to keep it upright. On the contrary, the Greek Marble Statue of a Kouros (Youth) was made using geometric patterns that are almost precise in form. It is stable and is able to stand on its own.If the Roman statue wasnot broken, it would also have been stable. The Roman face seems real, with the eyes focused downward. The nose is pointed, and the cheekbones are not emphasized. The face has a rounded chin without beard, an indication of a young man. In comparison, the Greekstatue looks ahead as though it is in a formal forward movement. Its eyes seem focused straight ahead and this enables the viewer to see the front part of the face in totality. On the other hand, the Roman statue has a bent head and it seems as if it is shying away from the viewer’s gaze. This position makes us conclude that it is not moving, but its stance is that of a pose. Looking at the Roman statue from straight on, we are able to see only the left part of its face.
Both the Greek and the Roman artists have used the left leg forward, a positionderived from Egyptian sculptural methods for stability and compactness. The figureshave been represented in a way that their weight is distributed to show the pose of a young man when walking. By using this pose, the artistsavoida rectangular effect often obtained when figures stand still without movement.The Greek sculpture might look stiff and not totally naturalistic to viewers, but it representsGreek lifelike vitality and concern with the design.The Roman sculpture looks more naturalistic, because it has almost rounded body structures that depict real human form. This is unlike the Greek sculpture, which looks more geometrically carved and thus it has almost straight limbs that are not a depiction of a realistic human body.The Greek sculpture, from Attica, represents one of the earliest freestanding beautiful marble statues. The figure represents a male youth (kouros) with the characteristic nude posture and left leg stridingforward. This was the theme of the period.The kouroisculptures made in this period were supposed to serve as grave markers,and some were dedications in the sanctuary of Greek gods. Additionally, the style used in the sculpture in carving the fingers into a fist and showing the shape of the knees was borrowed from Egyptian art.
The Greek figure represents use of geometric patterns that are almost abstract in form. The geometric features represent the predominant, anatomical and complex details of the pelvic arch and chest muscles. The sculpture presents these features in beautiful patterns. This method of sculpting developed by the Greekswas learned from the Egyptiansculpture which involved carving stones for centuries. The forward foot,visible in Egyptian art, was used in most of Greek sculpture for a long time. The pose of a man taking a step forward was used by the artist to eliminate the rectangular effect obtained when statues stand still without movement. Sculptures made using the rectangular effectlook stiff and un-naturalistic to the observer, but the stride represents Greek lifelike vitality and concern for the design.
The Roman Marble Statue of a Youth was probably alsocarved so that the artist was able to make an object without a flat base stand.The Roman statue borrowed much of its realism from Greek art and synthesized it with Roman culture to produce a statue with one foot down and one knee slightly bent with the left foot resting higher, though we cannot see this since the lower leg is missing. Despite having no lower limbs, it still used the signature pose but with support from the raised base. This resulted in a statue with a more relaxed stance and an upward movement. The structure represents a youth posing in his immediate environment. The pose of the structure is derived from the classical Greek bronzes that were made to commemorate the victory of a young athlete. They used the pose because it was used for portraits in the High classical period. The people sculpted had to have the pose to look important.
The Greek Marble Statue of a Kouros represents the Greek culture in the sixth century BC. During the period of the Roman Marble Statue of a Youth, in the first century AD, the Romans were busy conquering nations and as a result, youths got hurt and left loved ones behind. The sculpture of the Roman youth may have been a way of celebrating their strength, and also a strong criticism to the unending wars that the community faced that destroyed these young men. On the other hand, Greeks were describing the ideal beauty of a youth. They explored their energy and musicality by giving emphasis on the male muscle structure, explaining their artistic prowess. They see influence by the Egyptian figures of their gods, abstract forms of geometry dominated in the sculpturing technique while the body parts of the Roman sculpture are rounder and look more human. Both sculptures create a sense of immediacy. This is because we are able to feel the physical presence of the personalities presented to us by the artists. A sense of immediacy also arises from the point that observers are able to see the human figures as they really are in space. There is a great artistic skill used by the two sculptures in polishing the marble to develop real surface textures that suggest the flesh and strength of youth.
In the Roman Marble Statue of a Youth, the weight of the marble was considered against the forces of gravity to enable the structure to stand. It has a grace that makes it an appealing decorative work. Its naturalness in form is enhanced by the use of color and texture that gives the illusion of flesh. We are therefore able to see a structure that closely resembles human form, even though some parts are missing. The extraordinary reality is only highlighted by the fact that the statue is a representation of a well-formed young man.
The two marble sculptures are compared in their figurative and biomorphic imagery through form, content and merits of work. The Greek Marble Statue of a Kouros (Youth) andThe Roman Marble Statue of a Youthdepict young men, who were common subjects of fine art considered beautiful. Thesetwo were among the best forms ofsculpture that were made by their different communities using the same physical position. They are examples of three-dimensionalcarved structures that were made in their periods.
The sculptures attract attention since they make you feelthat something beautiful is right there standing before you.Despite being similar in form, and position, the two sculptures were made to create different meaning and kinds of beauty. We can still identify their beauty and artistic creativity centuries after they were sculpted.The two sculptures present a feeling of movement and forwardness from the way they are positioned. They represent a form of commonality between the observer and the sculpture’s personhood. There is no resultant distance between the observer and the statues since the structures fill space and are almost human in form.It is interesting to note that, in both Greek and Roman art, artists created nude sculpture in order to celebrate on human beauty and strength.