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Greek Architects

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  530 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,486 Views

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Just as Greek architects defined and fol- lowed a set of strict standards for ideal temple design, Greek sculptors sought an ideal for representations of the human body. Studying human appearances close- ly, the sculptors of the Classical period selected those attributes they considered most desirable and beautiful, such as reg- ular facial features, smooth skin, and par- ticular body proportions, and combined them into a single ideal.

The best-known art theorist of the Classical period was the sculptor Polykleitos of Argos. About 450 BCE he developed a set of rules for constructing the ideal human figure, which he set down in a treatise called "The Canon" (kanon is Greek for "measure," "rule," or "law"). To illustrate his theory, Polykleitos created a larger-than-life bronze statue of a man car- rying a spear—perhaps the hero Achilles (fig. 5–33). Neither the treatise nor the original statue has survived, but both were widely discussed in the writings of his contemporaries, and later Roman artists made marble copies of the Spear Bearer (Doryphoros). By studying these copies, scholars have tried to determine the set of measurements that defined the ideal pro- portions in Polykleitos' canon.

The canon included a system of ratios between a basic unit and the length of various body parts. Some studies suggest that his basic unit may have been the length of the figure's index finger or the width of its hand across the knuckles; others suggest that it was the height of the head from chin to hairline. The canon also included guidelines for symmetria ("com- mensurability"), by which Polykleitos

meant the relationship of body parts to one another. In the statue he made to illustrate his treatise, he explored not only proportions but also the relationships among weight-bearing and relaxed legs and arms in a perfectly balanced figure. The cross-balancing of supporting and free elements in


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