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.