Monday, 28 February 2011

Bite 69: Jorge Macchi - Parallel Lives, 1998

Parallel Lives, 1998, two glass mirrors, 60 x 80 cm each
Two mirrors. One cracked with a hammer and nail, the other painstakingly chiseled to be identical to the first. An abstract pattern, random and coincidental, yet carefully crafted. A unique moment facsimiled - one a reflective representation of the other cracked reflection (but which is which?). One taking moments, the other hours, to create.

This is a conflation of destruction and creation - destruction as creation and vice versa.

Featured in the exhibition All of This and Nothing at Hammer Gallery, Los Angeles.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Bite 68: James Rosenquist - I Love You With My Ford, 1961

I Love You With My Ford, 1961, oil on canvas, 210 x 238 cm
“When I copied a 1940s spaghetti illustration, I had to ask myself, why am I doing this? I didn’t honestly know. It was just an instinct about images as pure form… in a sense the spaghetti is like an abstract expressionist painting. De Kooning loved it. He said it was sexy.”
                                                                                   - James Rosenquist

Originally an advertising billboard painter, Rosenquist applied his style and skill to create equally monumental anti-advertising images, combining images and icons to dissect mass-media and the mechanisations of advertising imagery.

The grill of a Ford. A woman opening her mouth sensually. A close-up of spaghetti. What do these three disparate images have in common? 

All used to sell commodities they are 'zoomed in' on to remove their contexts, becoming abstract vignettes of consumer culture. Icons, of sorts, of the American Dream, absurdly combined, tinged with sexuality - auto-erotic, carnal, and gastronomic desires (all tapped into through advertising), with the spaghetti coming alive as snakes, in close-up vibrant colour.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Bite 67: Jasper Johns - Three Flags, 1958

Three Flags, 1958, encaustic on canvas, 78 x 116 x 13 cm
One flags sits in front of another which sits in front of another; the Stars-and-Stripes in reverse perspective, flat and painterly while simultaneously sculptural (sitting out from the wall) and 'pure' appropriation. This is not the flag itself but rather the reference of a reference of the flag of the United States of America - a monument to the flag as simulacra.

Where does painting cease to be painting? And when does a symbol, from overuse and misappropiation, become meaningless?

This 'flag' does not symbolise patriotism, freedom or liberty. It is instead an open question; the Stars-and-Stripes becoming conceptual art.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bite 66: Ford Madox Brown - The Last of England, 1855

The Last of England, 1855, oil on panel, 83 x 75 cm
A baby clutches its mother's hand. The mother in turn holds tight to her husband's. He holds his hand to his chest. Lost in anxious thought they gaze uncertainly toward their future: Australia, many months travel ahead of them. The White Cliffs of Dover, England, are behind them. They struggle to leave.

Ford Madox Brown, in one of his most successful paintings, brings the small yet momentous moment between emigrants leaving their home, probably for good, to the viewer with profound and touching intimacy. The entire circular composition is centred on the couple and their child - only evidenced by a small hand. We feel their fear and apprehension, the mystery of the unknown, of what must now surely come.

Brown states, "To ensure the peculiar look of light all round which objects have on a dull day at sea, it was painted for the most part in the open air on dull days."

More brightly lit the woman's face is the key here. Her heart is still with her home, she has great uncertainty and fear for her child, and her husband. Taking hold of his hand she offers support as much as needing it. She realises that she must work to keep them together in their great voyage. The stiffly blowing ribbon, her firm lips and hard-set eyes attest to her strength. We see this is a strong-willed woman with determination, as well as fear, in her eyes. 

My grandmother emigrated from Yorkshire to Australia many decades ago. In two weeks I will retrace that journey, in a way, returning from New Zealand to England, where all my grandparents were born.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Bite 65: Kegan Fisher - Earthquake, 2006

Earthquake, 2006, acrylic on canvas, 213 x 152 cm
Christchurch, New Zealand has been torn apart again by a devastating earthquake. This time dozens have died.  The total effect and lives lost is yet to be determined. It is, however, no doubt, New Zealand's worst disaster in over 30 years.

My thoughts are completely with the people of Christchurch at the moment. I can only imagine the horror of the earth beneath your feet continually shaking from the quake and its aftershocks. We will never forget this day.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Bite 64: Richard Avedon - Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg, 1963

Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg, Poets, New York, December 30, 1963
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,
who passed through universities with radiant eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York..."
                                                                - Allen Ginsberg, Howl

Friday, 18 February 2011

Bite 63: Duane Michals - The Illuminated Man, 1968

“How foolish of me to believe that it would be that easy. I had confused the appearance of trees and automobiles, and people with a reality itself, and believed that a photograph of these appearances to be a photograph of it. It is a melancholy truth that I will never be able to photograph it and can only fail. I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.”
                                                                      - Duane Michals

Today is Duane Michal's 79th birthday. 

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bite 62: J. W. Black - Walt Whitman, c. 1860

"Whitman late in his life identified the date of this photo as between 1845 and 1850, but no one has agreed with him; Dr. Bucke guessed 1856, but most estimates have been a later date. Seeing this photo late in his life, Whitman exclaimed, "How shaggy! looks like a returned Californian, out of the mines, or Coloradoan," but he was fascinated with "the expression of benignity" that shone through, though he felt "such benignity, such sweetness, such satisfiedness - ” it does not belong. I know it often appears - ” but that's the trick of the camera, the photographer." Whitman called it his "young man" picture ("when did I not look old? At twenty-five or twenty-six they used already to remark it"), and claimed "it is me, me, un formed, undeveloped - ”hits off phases not common in my photos." He described his physique at the time: "I was very much slenderer then: weighed from one hundred and fifty-five to one hundred and sixty-five pounds: had kept that weight for about thirty years: then got heavier." Whitman was amused by the clothing - "how natural the clothes! . . . the suit was a beautiful misfit, as usual, eh?" - and he was impressed with "its calm don't-care-a-damnativeness - ”its go-to-hell-and-find-outativeness: it has that air strong, yet is not impertinent: defiant: yet it is genial." Whitman was mystified by this portrait - ”he began calling it "the mysterious photograph" - ”when he first saw it in 1889: "When it could have been taken - ”by whom - ”where - ”I cannot even guess. . . . it's a devilish, tantalizing mystery. . . .""
                                                                        -  The Walt Whitman Archive

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Bite 61: Shigeyuki Kihara - Sina Ma Tuna: Sina and Her Eel, 2003

Sina Ma Tuna: Sina and Her Eel, 2003
In the series Vavau - Tales from ancient Samoa Shigeyuki Kihara mimics the tradition of velvet painting through photography and self-portraiture. “Where the velvet painters are notorious for portraying Pacific people from the colonial gaze, what I do is re-occupy that gaze" she says. "I come from a point of view from the insider.” 

The work Sina Ma Tuna: Sina and Her Eel  depicts Kihara in the role of Sina from the traditional Samoan myth ‘Sina and the Eel’, in which the origins of the coconut are explained. After being attacked by the eel some men kill it and, in mourning, Sina buries the head of the eel. The head then grows into the first coconut tree. 

Kihara, in this image, has chosen to portray the grieving Sina with her head turned, out of the blackness, toward the viewer. Holding up the eel, the object of her loss, with blood running down her arm, the viewer is invited into her pain. 

One possible interpretation of this re-enactment, in relation to gender performance and the ambiguity surrounding the ‘third gender’, would see the eel as a phallic symbol. While society expects her to grieve the loss of her masculinity Kihara is ironically pointing out that there is in fact nothing to grieve: she is both male and female, breaking the binary. Again Kihara is challenging her own marginalisation and societal categorisations about who she is and how her body should be portrayed. Through the image of a beautiful grieving ‘dusky maiden’ Kihara is confronting the expectation that she has anything to grieve or feel sorry for at all. On the contrary, it is others who should be feeling sorry. 

As Jim Vivieaere puts it “‘Who am I, what am I, and what are you?' are questions that will never haunt or torment Kihara.” But, these certainly are questions that Kihara wants to confront us, and our colonial legacy, with. It is this myriad of questions, challenges, ambiguities and compromising of binaries, throughout Kihara’s work, that never leaves the viewer without feeling challenged.

C. Vercoe, “The Many Faces of Paradise” in Paradise Now: Contemporary Art from the Pacific (Auckland: David Bateman Ltd., 2004), 46.
J. Vivieaere, Exhibition Catalogue for Shigeyuki Kihara: In the manner of a woman. Sherman Galleries, 2005. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bite 60: Shigeyuki Kihara - My Samoan Girl, 2004-5

My Samoan Girl, 2004-5

In a similar vein to the Fa'afafine work, My Samoan Girl also utilises a mimicry of traditional studio portraiture of the late 19th century. 

Colonial portraiture came in many forms but one ongoing theme in the representation of the exotic female was one of ownership. As the historian Anne Maxwell points out “[s]uch images endowed indigenous peoples with the romantic characteristics associated with renewal, while portraying them as children in need of tutelage and protection.” This ‘Samoan girl’ then is presented just as Kihara’s ancestors would have been: objectified, sexual, passive, obedient, in need of direction and protection and thus ownership. 

The way that her arms are held up makes it clear that she is being asked to do this by the photographer. Her comfort is not taken into consideration and her identity is not what is being photographed. She is merely an exotic artefact holding another exotic artefact. The surrounding plants heighten the feeling of the exotic expected in such images. “That mainstream culture has periodically expressed desire for subaltern art has never obligated anyone to deal with subaltern peoples as human beings, compatriots, or artists. That is, perhaps, until now,” writes post-colonial theorist Coco Fusco. 

The colonial assumes her need for ownership. But for now her image will do; for is not photography another form of ownership? – a simulation of possession – a way to have your ‘Samoan girl’ in your pocket for whenever needed. In contrast to her stance in the triptych, in My Samoan Girl Kihara portrays a girl vulnerable and passive; looking slightly off to the left one imagines that she is picturing her island paradise, or perhaps her long-lost colonial lover.

A. Maxwell, Colonial Photography and Exhibition (Leicester: Leicester University, 2000), 165.
C. Fusco, English is Broken Here (New York: New Press, 1995), 28.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Bite 59: Shigeyuki Kihara - Fa’afafine: In the Manner of A Woman, 2004-5

Text Box: Figure 1: Fa’afafine: In the Manner of a Woman (2004-05) C-Print, ed. of 5, triptych: 80 x 60 cm each
Fa’afafine: In the Manner of A Woman, 2004-5

The colonisation of Samoa coincided almost exactly with the announcement of the invention of photography in the early 19th century. By the 1850’s photographers were travelling from Europe all over the world with anthropological aims to capture through photography a cultural ‘Other’ whom they saw as exotic and savage, bringing back the images for study and sale within a number of contexts. Over time Samoa began to be imaged in, as academic Alison Nordstrom puts it, “a few manageable and marketable clichés. These clichés consistently presented Samoans as primitive types inhabiting an unchanging Eden that did not participate in the Western world of technology, progress and time.” 

These clichés included that of the South Sea Belle or Dusky Maiden, the stereotype of a sexually available exotic female body. Images were sold as exotic postcards and pornography, disconnecting the photographic representations from the identities of their subjects. As artist Shigeyuki Kihara explains: “There [were] more [other] people photographing Samoans than Samoans photographing themselves.” As such Samoan identities were defined not by Samoans but by the voyeuristic colonial gaze. A gaze that was largely white, straight and male. 

In the triptych Fa’afafine: In the Manner of A Woman Samoan-born, Auckland and Sydney based Shigeyuki Kihara takes on the stereotype of the ‘dusky maiden’ as a way of criticizing and reconstructing the colonial gaze. Kihara herself had relatives who posed in such 19th century portraits and by choosing to photograph herself in the role of the ‘dusky maiden’ she is able to pay homage to her ancestors while simultaneously examining the hurtful legacy of colonial portraiture. By the time photography arrived in Samoa, Samoan people were already dressing in Western clothing, yet when they were invited into the studio they were often asked to strip nude so they would more fully embody the European fictional idea of the exotic ‘noble savage’.

This confronting series portrays Kihara in three states of undress posing in a traditional Western art historically influenced reclining pose. The third image disrupts the viewer’s expectations further by challenging the Western classifications of male/female gender. Kihara herself identifies as fa'afafine“a liminal gender that encapsulates both a male and a female gender," as Kihara explains it. It takes a moment for the viewer to see the difference between the two fully nude figures. When one does, in viewing the final image, the confrontation is complete. She goes on to say, “I feel that portraying man and woman is a responsibility of mine because I am a manifestation of both.” 

A parallel is made here between the ‘construction’ of her body to match her gender identity and the highlighting of the social construction of the stereotyped native belle. The double meaning of the title references this further. In the manner of a woman: fa’afafine, and, in the manner of a woman: exotic beauty. 

Here we have a Samoan Olympia. And just as with the painting by Manet her body may be nude but she is not as vulnerable as this would suggest. Kihara is not merely an object for male delectation. Instead she is upright and confident, challenging and reoccupying the white male gaze. Her pluralities heighten this confrontation with the viewer further. Three people stare out at us from what we are tricked into imagining is three period photographs (which in reality were photographed on a digital camera). 

The extraordinarily direct gaze is the dead give away though (even more so perhaps than the phallus) that these images are distinctly post-colonial and very much contemporary. For this ‘native belle’ is no passive exotic subject as her ancestors were. She is in on it: the subject, the photographer, the viewer herself in one. In this way she has become the (de)coloniser of her own body. As Kihara herself puts it “'the Fa`a fafine work questions the western classification of races, gender and sexuality. I can never fit into them, but at the same time I ask myself – are they worth fitting into?”

Alison Nordstrom, “Persistent Images”, Continuum: The Australian Journal of media & Culture vol. 6 no. 2 (1991), 1.
Alison Nordstrom, “Paradise Recycled: Photographs of Samoa in Changing Contexts”, The Journal of the Society for Photographic Education, vol. 28, no. 3 (1991-92): 15.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Bite 58: Barnett Newman - Broken Obelisk, 1963-9

Broken Obelisk, 1963-9, Cor-Ten steel, 750 x 319 x 319 cm
The top of a broken off obelisk 'kisses' the top of a pyramid. Both symbols from Egyptian art, they are borrowed here, combined in a kind of 'surrealist' object, becoming a monument to nothing, a monument to everything, a monument to monuments themselves. 

The point of meeting in the work - mathematical triangles barely touching yet one mass holding up the other - creates a sense of tension, ambiguity in an otherwise solid object. But this 'solidity' is an illusion. The work, in its abstraction and lack of apparent purpose tends to float - the concept as well as the obelisk itself, uprooted from the ground. 

Inverted and aimless, this monument speaks not of grand ambitions or successful lives lived, but rather of unfulfillment, of banality and futility.

It explores similar themes to Steve Woodward's sculpture Step Touch Stone.
In the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Bite 57: Andrew Wyeth - Christina's World, 1948

Christina's World, 1948, tempura on gessoed panel, 82 x 121 cm
One of the most popular works in the permanent MoMA collection (although not necessarily so highly-acclaimed among academics), Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth can be seen as somewhat against the grain of the Modernism of the period. 

Considered an example of 'Magic Realism', each hair and blade of grass is minutely defined and the entire scene is imbued with a dense ambiguous quality, a sense of impending events. A portrait of the artist's neighbour who was crippled by polio, she "was limited physically but by no means spiritually." As Wyeth explained, "The challenge to me was to do justice to her extraordinary conquest of a life which most people would consider hopeless." 

This rather melancholic work none-the-less speaks of a kind of hopelessness. The girl, face turned from the viewer, gazes toward a house in the distance, dark clouds hovering above. The overall impression is that she will never make it back there, her paralyzed legs and downtrodden spirit withholding her from anything she may have once dreamed of becoming.

In the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Bite 56: Lucio Fontana - Spatial Concept: Expectations, 1959

Spatial Concept: Expectations, 1959, synthetic polymer paint on slashed burlap, 100 x 82 cm

Q: By slashing the canvas does the artist turn this painting into a sculpture?

In the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Bite 55: Jackson Pollock - Full Fathom Five, 1947

Full Fathom Five, 1947, oil on canvas with nails, buttons, key, coins, cigarettes, etc., 129 x 76 cm 
"Imagine a man brought up from birth in a white cell so that he has never seen anything except the growth of his own body. And then imagine that suddenly he is given some sticks and bright paints. If he were a man with an innate sense of balance and colour harmony, he would then, I think, cover the white walls of his cell as Pollock has painted his canvases. He would want to express his ideas and feelings about growth, time, energy, death, but he would lack any vocabulary of seen or remembered visual images with which to do so. He would have nothing more than the gestures he could discover through the act of applying his coloured marks to his white walls. These gestures might be passionate and frenzied but to us they could mean no more than the spectacle of a deaf mute trying to talk."
                                                                                      - John Berger, 1958

In the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

John Berger, Selected Essays, (ed. Geoff Dyer), Vintage, 2001. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Bite 54: Piet Mondrian - Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-3

Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-3, oil on canvas, 127 x 127 cm
"Art is only a substitute while the beauty of life is deficient. It will disappear in proportion, as life gains in equilibrium." - Piet Mondrian

Staccato beats of colour create the illusion of line and depth: The grid of New York streets, seen from above - more taxis than other cars. The bright lights of Broadway. The organised confusion of American jazz.

As Robert Hughes points out, "once one has seen Broadway Boogie Woogie, the view from a skyscraper down into the streets is changed forever."

While strongly influenced by the urban vitality of New York, where the artist had recently emigrated, we are still solidly within the grasp of Abstraction, Mondrian's principle of reduction, an economy of means, taking a new course but still very much in control. 

Colour is painstakingly positioned, repositioned, precisely applied. Creating a harmonious composition - order referencing the seemingly random - fooling us that it was easy to come by, falling into place on its own - Art and Life in perfect sync. "Rhythm alone emerges," Mondrian explains, "leaving the planes as nothing."

This is a painting to get lost in. To become a coloured square yourself and travel around the grid, tracing new routes as you would explore a new city.

Although immediately acclaimed as a masterpiece, Mondrian himself saw it as a failure. "There is too much of the old in it," he said, referring to his grid paintings of his early career. Yet it is exactly this move 'back' to the vaguely 'figurative' which makes his final works so revolutionary, the opposition of vertical and horizontal as the "immutable" essence of all things becoming real - a total abstraction while referencing the world around him. 

In the collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New, Thames & Hudson, 1980.
Hal Foster (ed.), Art Since 1900, Thames & Hudson, 2004.

My 'Grand Tour'

"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose."
- Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

In a little over a month I will be leaving New Zealand. Travelling via L.A, Las Vegas, San Diego and New York, I will base myself in London to explore all that Europe - the birth place of western art and civilisation - has to offer. 

This will be my Grand Tour. It is a Pilgrimage, and the art masterpieces of the world are some of my key destinations. 

This blog will be my journal. I will study in depth one work every weekday, as I have done. The difference being that I will have the privilege of seeing these great works in person, a fact that will doubtless alter my view on them.

Before my departure I feel the need to anticipate the galleries and world-class collections I will be seeing first-hand. Over the past week I have explored five works from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I will continue this 'preparation' by looking at pieces in other American and European galleries. This week I plan to write-up five artworks from the collection at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Effectively homeless until I find a job and a flat in London, the vast and stable world of Art will become my home - simultaneously a mirror and a window onto the world.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Bite 53: Thomas Eakins - Max Schmitt in a Single Scull, 1871

Max Schmitt in a Single Scull, 1871, oil on canvas, 82 x 118 cm
"There is so much beauty in reflections," Eakins observed, "that it is generally well worthwhile to try to get them right." 

Here, painting his childhood friend Max Schmitt in commemoration of a  successful championship, he certainly achieves that, portraying perfectly the Schuykill River in his native Philadelphia bathed in that specific late-afternoon sun when the world appears all the more tangible. 

This is American Realism at its best, with expert colour control and well-crafted composition. The result is an air of tranquility touched with melancholy; Schmitt looking back at the viewer before he continues on with his efforts, the red boat in the distance occupied by the artist himself. This may be a naturalistic work by a fiercely realist artist (Eakins was one of the first American artists to utilise the camera in painting), yet it none-the-less remains a deeply personal and moving work without resorting to over-sentimentality. 

"The sentiments," Eakins explains, "run beyond words. If a man makes a hot day he makes it like a hot day he once saw or is seeing; if a sweet face, a face he once saw or which he imagines from old memories or parts of memories and his knowledge, and he combines and combines..."

This exquisite combination is what makes great Realism - it is much more than a mere xerox.

In the collection (of over 2 million works) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Bite 52: George Caleb Bingham - Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 1845

Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 1845, oil on canvas, 74 x 93 cm
A genre painting created for an urban north-eastern American audience in the mid-nineteenth century. An audience which still viewed the 'frontier' as rustic, naturally splendid, mysterious, and peopled by 'simple folk'. 

Fur Traders Descending the Missouri (originally titled French-Trader and Half-Breed Son, it changed when submitted to the American Art Union) encapsulates this understanding perfectly in a work of profound reduction of composition and palette by an expert of the American genre tradition.

The perpendiculars and diagonals of the men and their reflections fit harmoniously within the sparse surroundings. The overall effect is one of an indelible serenity. 

The figures regard the viewer with solemnity, immersed in their own thoughts, demanding nothing from the viewer and asking that they in turn ask nothing of them. In this sense at least this masterpiece can be seen as lacking the judgment and moralisation prevalent in much genre painting of the period.

In the collection (of over 2 million works) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bite 51: Unknown - Unicorn in Captivity, c. 1500

Unicorn in Captivity, Netherlands, c. 1500, tapestry, 368 x 252 cm
May be part of a narrative series or a stand-alone work, Unicorn in Captivity is one of the most beautiful and complex works that exists from the Middle Ages. Little is known about it or its authorship. In the Middle Ages tapestries were one of the most costly art-forms. This particular work incorporates gold and silver gilt and is finely detailed throughout. It would have taken several weavers a full year or more to complete it.

The letters 'A. E.' featured on the tapestry likely indicate a noble marriage. The symbolism of the many elements of the work, including flora and fauna, confirms this. The unicorn in captivity can be seen as both a metaphor for Christ, the red juice of the pomegranates representing his blood, as well as for the concept of the bridegroom. The animal is chained but not secured. The fence is low and he appears happy to have been captured, safe within a protecting environment. The exquisitely rendered tail appears to dance in the grass.

The wider narrative can be seen as a religious allegory as the unicorn, a traditional Medieval symbol for Jesus Christ, is killed in capture and miraculously comes back to life.

In the collection (of over 2 million works) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Can be seen in The Cloisters.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Bite 50: Unknown - 'New York Kouros', Greece, c. 585 BC

'New York Kouros', Greece, c. 585 BC, marble, h: 193 cm
"Feet firmly planted between movement and rootedness, he simultaneously stands and walks. Crisp-cut, almond eyes, such beautifully bobbled hair patterned against the skin-smooth stone of flesh. Naked, but for that headband so deliciously tied and the choker with its knot before his neck. Muscles marks, precise, not natural but the sign of what it is to be a man. Not sexualized but archetypally male, hands resting by his side or almost tensed for action, with half-smile and a stare at once intense and far away, he gazes of archaic eternity.
Where are you looking, marble man? Do you catch the glance of the passers-by who admired your manhood once, in ancient times, and mourned the lost youth above whose Attic tomb you stood or walked in the early years of Greece? Or do you look at those who now observe your marble finish as they saunter through the stone galleries that hug the east side of the park? What do you see, stone aristocrat of Greece? The dying world of heroes, kings and mythic monsters, whence you came? The democratic future when stone would be smoothed to look like flesh and statues really seemed to walk, when kings were overthrown and myths made subject to philosophy? Or the chaos of New York where you have come - another immigrant to the melting pot, to be the Ancient Greek amidst the teaming millions?
Brave youth caught in the morning of the world, poised naked at the cusp of adulthood, your standing walk seems, motionless, to span the whole expanse of what is past, and passing, and to come."
                                                                                     - Jas' Elsner

The only known surviving exact example of Egyptian style and proportional rules on a Greek statue. In the collection (of over 2 million works) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Jas' Elsner, 'Staring into the Future' in What Makes a Masterpiece?, C. Dell (ed), Thames & Hudson, 2010.