Islamic Decorative Arts
is said that Mohammed said,
Subject: The subject of this work is considered to be an ideal human male athlete, ready for action. Ancient Greeks had very strong notions on perfection, and were very fixated on man, so what better subject than a perfect man? Polykleitos divided the human form into four equal parts, and then moved some in turn. One arm is at rest, one is holding a spear. One leg is supporting weight, the other is not. The head faces the opposite direction as the chest. These features serve to provide a balance between movement and rest which shows this perfect male at his full potential.
The Artist's Work: The skilled artist responsible for this work would certainly have had an athletic male model, who he perfected to a further extent in this statue. He probably would have used the lost-wax technique which involves making an original of stone or clay, covering it with wax and then heated to remove this wax. After this, bronze would be poured into the empty layer to produce an exact replica of the original. These bronze sculptures were able to be freestanding and delicate, unlike the stone statues which required extra support to allow their massive weight.
Reaction: At first glance, this sculpture did not impress me particularly. I suppose I would liken this to not being drawn in instantly to a painting that looks exactly like a photograph. It takes a while to grasp the concept that this was carved from a model, not taken like some kind of 3-dimentional photograph. Once my mind gets around this, I really appreciate the work. Nothing looks 'off' at all about this statue. The athlete looks like he could truly leap into action at any moment, even though he is not in the middle of an action. Once I learned about Polykleitos's thinking of having his arms and legs mirror each other and convey possible movement, I was even more astonished. He has accomplished this so well! He looks so relaxed, but in a very natural way. He has a distinct S-curve to his spine and his hands look incredibly natural; they do not look awkward at all. His face does not convey much emotion and thus doesn't distract me from the true point of the sculpture which was to show the true potential of this athlete. This sculpture makes me think very deeply about the human form, and even brought up wonder regarding the creation of man. For a sculpture to convey so much beauty as to cause me to think about matters of the divine, it must now rank among my favourites.