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  • Beauty has a History

  • DavidMichelangelo, 1501-1504

  • Part 1 - Pure Beauty

  • Pre-eminently,

  • the rhetoric body appears in the theatre of beauty.

  • But what is beauty?

  • Beauty has a bearing on everything that surrounds us,

  • both pure nature and that what is made by man.

  • The experience of beauty

  • is of all times and places.

  • However, this experience,

  • and the determination of beauty

  • has a cultural history.

  • People of Israel and Juda,

  • you have betrayed me, completely.

  • I,,,

  • the lord, have spoken.

  • Venus de Milo - Alexandros of Antioch, 130-100 BC

  • We often associate beauty with Greek art,

  • with sculptures of perfect bodies

  • wherein the classical ideal of beauty

  • is realized in pure marble.

  • Initially, in Greek art the concept of beauty

  • did not play a prominent role.

  • Plastic artists were inspired by Egyptian art,

  • with its sacred, yet rigid rules.

  • Tut Anch Amon and his wife, 1550 BC

  • Lady of Auxerre, made in Crete? 650-625 BC

  • Cast of the sculpture,

  • with putative colour reconstructed.

  • The Egyptian inspiration in Greek art

  • can be seen in thekouroi’, or young men,

  • dated to about 580 BC.

  • Division and stiffness of the bodies correspond

  • with the rules of Egyptian art.

  • However, these rules are broken

  • in the representation of the knees.

  • For the knees are sculptured

  • according to mere observation,

  • and not according to prescriptive rules.

  • Charioteer, bronze, ca. 470 BCsculptor unknown

  • Since five hundred years BC,

  • the liberation from the corset of the Egyptian rules

  • promoted the development of a concept of beauty.

  • Beauty became connected to the rhythm in rhetoric,

  • the harmonic order of the cosmos,

  • the enchantment of poetry,

  • and the accurate proportions in plastic arts.

  • By means of this discus-thrower,

  • the sculptor Myron attempted, in 450 BC,

  • to capture body movement.

  • On account of this sculpture

  • one has tried to determine how in Greek times

  • the throwing of a discus was performed.

  • However, the realism of this sculpture

  • appeared not to be found

  • in the mimicry of a sportsman,

  • but in the beauty of the body.

  • Hereby, the accurate proportions

  • and the stance of the body are decisive.

  • Among others, the position of the head

  • makes the discus-thrower a body-in-movement.

  • Discus Thrower (Diskobolos) - Myron ca. 450 BC (Roman copy)

  • Hermes and the Infant Dionysos - Praxiteles ca. 340 BC (Roman copy)

  • Greek sculptors strived to embody

  • beauty in a credible way.

  • They were seeking for a balance

  • between the regulation of the depiction

  • and the realism of the beautiful body.

  • Apollo Belvédèreafter a bronze of Leochares 350-325 BC (Roman copy)

  • One of the their rules

  • was the avoidance of an excess of details.

  • Simplicity has to be taken care of,

  • not in a severe way, but serene.

  • The sculpture of the Laocoön group

  • - dated the first century BC -

  • broke with this rule:

  • it is dynamic and dramatic,

  • full of pathos.

  • Laocoön and his Sons - Agesander, Athenedoros and Polydorus, 160-20 BC

  • Philosophers want to delimit the essence of beauty.

  • According to Socrates one can only speak of beauty

  • when the goodness of the inner self

  • demonstrates itself in the outward appearance.

  • Beauty seems - as it were -

  • to shine through the body,

  • also through a so-calledugly body’.

  • On the surface,

  • Socrates may have been an ugly man,

  • but his internal beauty

  • was perceptible in his outward appearance.

  • Socrates (469 – 399 BC)

  • Warriors, from the sea off Riace, Italy ca. 460-450 BC, sculptor unknown

  • Beauty resides in the harmony

  • between a handsome body and a good spirit.

  • The eyes are the mirrors of the soul,

  • for this reason Praxiteles

  • painted the eyes of his sculptures.

  • Athena of the Temple of Aphaia, ca. 500 BC

  • It’s a misunderstanding to think

  • that the ancient Greek sculptures

  • were exhibited as bright, white marble objects.

  • Temples and sculptures

  • were all painted with variegated, vivid colors.

  • Reconstruction

  • Trojan archer (“Paris”), in the back the original Temple of Aphaia, ca. 500 BC

  • Plato uncouples the concept of beauty

  • from the individual, human body.

  • Beauty becomes an abstract notion,

  • he speaks of the 'idea' of beauty.

  • Plato (427 – 347 BC)

  • According to Plato,

  • one has to go into the beauty

  • of the pure, geometrical shapes.

  • These shapes are based on

  • the perfect harmonic order of the cosmos.

  • Plato’s filosophy had a great influence

  • on the concept of beauty,

  • in which good proportions, harmony, and soberness

  • are essential.

  • A long time his thoughts have determined

  • the experiencing of beauty.

  • Rhombicuboctahedron designed by Leonardo da Vinci, ca. 1500

  • Leonardo da Vinci, self-portrait 1512-1515

  • Remains of the temple of Apollo, Delphi, Greece

  • Delphi is the sanctuary of Apollo.

  • On his temple were inscriptions

  • refering to the Apolonian beauty concept.

  • Apollo is the God of order and harmony.

  • This order and harmony

  • delimit the border between beauty and chaos.

  • In fact, one of the inscriptions on the temple

  • runs as follows:

  • 'Take care of the border!'

  • Reconstruction of the temple of Apollo

  • Dionysus (500-490 BC)

  • Apollo opposes Dionysos,

  • the god of the intoxication, the disorder,

  • the unbridledness and the excess.

  • Dionysian mysteries, 1st cent. BC

  • Therefore, another well-known inscription

  • on Apollo’s temple was:

  • Nothing in excess” (meden agan).

  • Apollo SauroktonosPraxiteles ca. 340 BC (Roman copy, 1st–2nd cent. AD)

  • Features of Apollonian beauty

  • 1. Correct proportions, harmony, order, and soberness.

  • 2. Appeals to vision, and not to the other senses.

  • 3. Requires distance, no nearness, no contact.

  • 4. Appeals to intellect.

  • Apoxyomenos - Lysippos, ca. 330 BC

  • Apoxyomenos - Lysippos, ca. 330 BC Doryphoros - Polykleitos, ca. 440 BC.

  • Numeral proportions regulate

  • the beauty of the perfect body.

  • However, there is no agreement

  • on the exact values of those proportions.

  • On the left we see that Lysippos

  • divides the body in eight parts.

  • On the right we see the partition of Polykleitos,

  • he divides the body in seven parts.

  • The sculptures of Polykleitos went into history

  • as examples of the perfect proportions

  • of the beautiful, human body.

  • Doryphoros & Diadumenos - sculptor: Polykleitos (5th cent BC)

  • In the first century BC, however,

  • the Roman Vitruvius deviates from this conception

  • of the perfect body.

  • For Vitruvius the number four

  • is the representative unit.

  • The width of the beautiful human body,

  • with streched arms,

  • concurs with the body height:

  • in full, one can speak of a square.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) - Edvard Munch, 1906

  • The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is of opinion

  • that the Apollonian beauty concept has superseded

  • the Dionysian point of view.

  • The Dyonisian beauty is dangerous,

  • this beauty concept unsettles and disrupts.

  • It is in modern times that this Dionysian approach

  • will take revenge

  • by means of the experience of the sublime.

  • For this retaliation to take place,

  • a couple of centuries has to go by.

Beauty has a History

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History of Art 1/3 - Pure Beauty

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    Citi Wing posted on 2015/03/28
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