Archaic Greek Sculpture: The Kouros
Michael Lahanas

Κούρος

Archaische Griechische Kunst: Der Kouros

Part 1

What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful that the garment with which it is clothed? Michelangelo

The brothers Kleobis and Biton (Κλέοβις και Βίτων) excavated at Delphi in 1893 (identified by an inscription on the base of one of the Kouroi), 590 BC, Delphi, Greece, Sculptor Polymedes from Argos. Inscription: Polymedes the Argive made me. Pausanias also described a relief: Hard by are Cleobis and Biton carved in relief on stone, themselves drawing the carriage and taking in it their mother to the sanctuary of Hera.

More about Kleobis and Biton

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Preparing a Block of Marble to form a Kouros Sculpture. A Grid of Lines was drawn and the Figure projected. A method that was applied for some early Kouros sculptures. Diagram from S. Woodford, An Introduction to Greek Art, Cornell University Press, 1986.

Stele of Dermys and Kitylos, dedicated by Amphalkes to Dermys and Kitylos from Kokali necropolis in Tanagra, early 6th century BC, National Archaeological Museum Athens NM 56



The Metropolitan Museum Kouros, Sculptor unknown, produced around 600 BC. The archaic smile is not seen in this kouros who is more serious. Interesting the anatomy that is marked using sharp likes and the details of his long hair. Since the archaic times long hair was a mark of the aristocrats.


Kouros of Tenea (Κούρος Τενέας), a 1.53 m sculpture now in the Glyptothek in Munich Germany

Kouros of Tenea, 575-550 BC, from Tenea in Corinth, showing a man who died young. A Kouros is always a young nude (“heroic nudity”) man . The clinched fists, standing with left leg forward similar to sculptures from Egypt but the Greek Kouroi are completely nude, a unique element found only in Greek culture since the 8th century BC. The Egyptians male sculptures at least wear a kilt. The revolutionary new element is also that the sculptures are standing free, for the first time in western Art. The Egyptians had some elements to support the statue but the Greeks tried to eliminate all pieces that do not belong to the body. Usually a symbol for a dead person but not a real portrait. As the statues were painted I used some color for the Tenea Kouros


A personal color reconstruction of the Tenea Kouros
. I think that color makes the appearance a little less strange than the blank color free statue.

The Kouros of Sounion, (3.05m) c.590-580BC , National Archaeological Museum Athens. ( Κούρος του Σουνίου)


The giant Kouros of Samos, around 5 m, found 1981 near the temple of Hera, the Heraion, Samos, dedicated according to an inscription by Isches (Isches Oresios dedicated this). Archaeological Museum of Samos. This Kouros was one of probably 6 other giant kouroi which adorned the road between the ancient city of Samos and the Heraion sanctuary. For comparison of the size t
he “Kroisos” Kouros (Κούρος Κροίσος), with a look in this image like Michael Jackson as Zombie in the Thriller video, c. 530-520 BC, 1.94 m (marble) from Anavyssos Attica, National Museum Athens Inv. 3851) Greece. Inscription: Stand and mourn at the monument for dead Kroisos, whom violent Ares destroyed, fighting in the front rank.

Kouros of Samos, Kouros of Samos, Kouros of Samos

Kroisos Kouros (3D View) German Webpage

Kroisos, rear view , PhotoArt , A higher quality image of the Kroisos Kouros

Even larger is the Kouros of Melanes with 6.4 meter and probably the greatest is the Kouros Apollonas (Naxos) with 10 meter 2 times larger than the giant Kouros of Samos (although not a finished sculpture). But even this Kouros was small compared to the Colossi of Memnon in Egypt

A 4.7 m Kouros Melanon at Mélanes,

A 10m giant Kouros Apóllon at Apóllonas

Naxos

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