The Greek poet Theognis once said "What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved" (getty. edu/... ). This idea of beauty was treasured during the time of ancient Greece. Greece during this period strongly emphasized male allure and youth, the artistic display of this world view was illustrated through the kouros sculptures. The “Getty Kouros” is currently located in Mailbu, California; it is believed to have originated around 530 B. C during Greece’s Archaic period. The authenticity of this particular kouros has been the center of controversy for many debates and discussions between art historians and scientists alike.
This distinct kouros’ issue of legitimacy has never been resolved and it is still being questioned to this day. The kouros is a representation of immortalized youth through its history, design and its significant implications of the value of men. A kouros is the modern term given to the sculptures of male youths which first appear in the Archaic period (700 - 480 B. C. ) in Greece (getty. edu/... ). A kouros is an ancient greek statue of a nude male youth standing with his arms at his sides with a formulaic advancing posture.
Greek kouros statues were greatly influenced by Egyptian sculptures. Greeks who traveled to Egypt for trade took the style of the Egyptian's 2 statues and altered its detail; but the Greeks retained the mysterious smiling expression, stiff walking dispose and stylized hair from the Egyptian works (ancient-greece... ). The kouros type appears to have served many functions in ancient Greece. It is proven that it was used to represent the god Apollo (Barrington 144). Some kouroi have been found in sanctuaries devoted to various gods, other than that of Apollo.
In fact, some kouroi placed in sanctuaries were not engraved with the name of a god but with the name of a mortal. Many kouros have been located in cemeteries where the most credible explanation is that they served as commemorative gravestones of the deceased. Also the kouros were used as a monument for the winners of ancient Greek sporting events, these specific kouros’ were essentially trophies (ancient-greece... ). The “Getty Kouros” is an over life sized statue in the form of a late archaic Greek kouros. The dolomitic marble statue was bought by the J.
Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, California, in 1985 for $7 million (getty. edu/... ). The “Getty Kouros” is a naked and relatively muscular male figure with long braided hair, a tall and slender body, and broad shoulders and chest. This kouros’ arms are held tightly against the body and the hands are clenched. The “Getty Kouros” is highly extensive in style. The hair is braided into what looks like a wig type mass of fourteen strands, each of which end in a triangular point, other kouros’ display this too.
The most significant characteristic of this statue is its freestanding posture with one foot ahead of the other as if the figure is in the process of walking. Also, the ears are not aligned evenly, they are at different height. This implies the sculptor was using two separate schema or none at all. Furthermore, there are a number of flaws in the marble, most importantly on the 3 forehead, which the sculptor has worked around by parting the hair curls at the center of the head. It is known that when a sculptor discovers flaws in the stone, they will abandon their work, this may be why the “Getty Kouros” is unfinished.
Neither art historians, nor scientists have been able to completely settle the issue of the “Getty Kouros” authenticity. Certain components of the statue have led to this questioning, especially a mixture of earlier and later stylistic traits. For example, the grid like hair of this kouros is a representation of early archaic style and the naturalistic feet of this kouros is representation of later archaic style. The use of marble from the island of Thasos at a date when its use is unexpected is also another indication that this statue may be a forgery.
If authentic, the “Getty Kouros” is one of only twelve complete kouroi still in existance. A kouros is a statue of a standing nude youth that did not represent any one individual youth but the idea of youth. The kouros embodies many of the ideals of the aristocratic culture of Archaic Greece. One such ideal of this period was a combination of moral and physical beauty and nobility. The kouros was the ideal form of a young man, it represented athletic and heroic nudity. It was used to immortalize the youth.
During this time in Greece men were viewed to be beautiful, even more so then women, homosexuality was very much alive during this period (Peat 16). Most of these sculptures were created due to the strong attraction and appreciation of the male body. When looking closely to this piece of art in person, I was taken back by how smooth the sculpture was. It was well preserved and did not seem to be from 4 ancient times. The idea that the kouros was created to honor the youth and the male figure truly gives me an idea of how their civilization was constructed.
Sexism was prominent, in ancient Greece men were everything. They were the leaders, athletes, delegates, even forms of beauty. Male beauty was prized during the period of ancient Greece. Greece strongly focused on the male body and beauty, the kouros sculptures were the artistic presentation of this view. The “Getty Kouros” is a representation of glorified youth through the ancient Greeks design of this sculpture. This kouros has a strong history which signifies its value and love of men by the ancient Greeks.