Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Human Figure....... Celebrated?

"It has been said that the Greeks made their gods into humans and their humans into gods. Humans, becoming the measure of all things, in turn must represent, if all things in their perfection are beautiful, the unchanging standard of the best. The perfect individual became the Greek ideal." (Gardner's Art through the Ages, 12th edition. pg. 91)

Through out the stages of Greek sculpture, the importance of "perfection" of the human figure is very adamant. "Perfection," it seems is the view of the Greeks and their society, especially with the male form. Muscular and toned male statues became prominent in the early classical Greek period. Unclothed male athletes were portrayed, and were supposedly the "ideal" Greek. Women were usually portrayed clothed, and the statues usually represented deities, and not actual female humans. If a women was portrayed nude, it was not in public display, but used in personal use of personal property.

During the high classical style, the female statues started to represent more senuality with clothing and more of the "wet" drapery style. An example would be Athena Nike, and the Three goddesses from the east pediment of the parthenon. While the male statues took on a more god-like and war-like features with a more active portrayal of the men.

The Hellenistic movement began portraying the female with more sexuality and almost full nudity and a more playful movement like in the sculpture of Aphrodite, Eros, and Pan. The male took on a more emotional role with the representation of more human characteristics such as pain and failure.

In today's society, the athletes body and achievements are still celebrated, but I don't think to what the scale the Greeks celebrated. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being athletic, the pressure from society due to mass media, to attain the "perfect body," is prominant and starting to consume our daily lives through products, television, magazines, and movies. The female figure is more prominant, but I think at times is more exploited than celebrated, and also more openly criticized. I think the goal of attaining the "perfect" life along with the "perfect" body has consumed our society and has tainted and distorted our view of what goals and achievements life is really all about.

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