Inst. S. Hohlios
Art History 2710
27 July 2011
The Poise of an Athlete
Both the Anavysos Kouros and the Seated Boxer represent perfect human form; by depicting an athlete in his prime, a feeling of the beauty of the human body and the strength of man is received by the viewer of these statues. This feeling of strength and severity radiates out from their carefully sculpted bodies, but their humanness is brought out through their faces, although they are perfect in form and god like, they still have this softness about them, showing that they are still human, and there is no need to fear them. With the archaic smile of the Anavysos Kouros and the anguished look of the Seated Boxer, their build becomes less threatening and they are transformed from gods to humans, but they will always remain immortal in their bronze and stone bodies.
The Anavysos Kouros is a strong young man, full of pride and eagerness to prove himself as an athlete. He holds himself with sternness and the pride of a man who has never lost, or is too arrogant to see his own weaknesses. His stride is strong and sure, he looks like an undefeated boxer stepping out of the gate and making his way to the ring, fists clenched and prepared for his event. As you look closer you see his abs clenched and his chest protruding out, as if to show off his strength and well chiseled body for the surrounding crowd, but you can also see his slenderness and softness, as if he were still a young boy; this is the midpoint of his transformation from a soft, rounded, immature body of a boy to firm, chiseled, rough, rugged body of a man.
The face of the Anavysos Kouros shows a slight smile, which accentuates the softness and roundness of his cheeks and face, showing the youth of this young man. He is not quite a man but holds himself as one, his face still showing his boyishness with how his chin has not quite become the angular squared off chin of a man, he also lacks the firm, disciplined, and weathered eyes of a man. His long braided hair is drawn back, to show his face to the crowd, also to keep it out of his face as he competes, but it is also styled and washed, as if he had cleaned himself before the event and made himself look as appealing as possible for his tournament, for he prides himself on his appearance and wants to stand out amongst the other competitors.
The stride of the Anavysos Kouros at first glance looks like one of confidence and vigor, with his shoulders back, chest out, fists clenched, head up, and looking forward. He looks sure and almost cocky, but at a closer look he appears to be afraid and hesitant as if this were his first event that he has ever competed in, but he is trying to conceal his true feelings behind a disguise of overconfidence. He puts on a brave face, but his body language gives away his true fears of defeat. As he walks to take his position, in front of the large cheering crowd he feels scared and his stomach starts to turn, he hides his chattering teeth behind I pursed smile and clenches his jaws together. His stride is small, as if he is unsure and subconsciously trying to fight the pressure to walk forward; his legs are stiff and flexed to prevent them from trembling. As his palms become cold and clammy from a cold sweat he closes his hand into a fist to conceal it, and clenches them tight to keep from shaking. His legs move forward, but his head and torso want to stay behind; instead of his shoulders being thrust forward in a determined manner, they are rocked back like a young child being pushed forward by their parents towards the edge of a diving board as they fight their parents hand to avoid the high drop into the pool. And his arms stay firmly held in one position, close to his body, unswaying showing resistance and perhaps hiding the perspiration under his arms from the shear fear of his upcoming, and unavoidable event, but he trudges in order to look strong and not shame himself or his family.
The seated boxer is a full grown man around the age of thirty; his muscles bulge showing such definition as if his skin were missing; his strength is not questioned, but his will seems to have faded. He gives off a look of anguish, or exhaustion as if he was in the middle of a fight, and the bell has just rung to signal the end of a round. He looks up from up his seat possibly to look at his trainer, who is giving him advice on how to defeat his opponent. His look is also one of intent; as he listens to his trainer, he is trying to understand him, but his heart is pounding, he is trying to catch his breath and deal with the pain of the blows he has received. His position reads as restful, but anxious, like he wants to get back into the fight. His eyes come across as stern and sad or worried, as if he has lost or is losing.
Although he is strong and godly in appearance, a sign of weakness is leaked out through his face and eyes. His skin and face looks to be damaged and cut from punches received by his opponent. His nose is bent and swollen from a large plow that his defenses let slip by. There is a large gash on his left cheek and his eyes appear to be swollen, making them heavy and hard to see out of, and it appears that he is suffering from early stages of cauliflower ear also probably making it hard to hear his trainer, along with the constant ringing from being hit in the head repeatedly. He is tired, but must trudge on, to prove his strength and that he is the dominant fighter of this match.
Each muscle protrudes, as if it were trying pop out of the skin after the stress of the last round; his muscles are flexed, but the boxer is trying to relax and calm himself, but his body won’t allow it. As the sweat runs down his face and body, he starts to shine in the light, and the sweat starts to drench his hair pulling down against his head and making his beard sag and drip. His wrappings are starting to become soggy and heavy with sweat, and his hands became soar and stiff from grasping the knuckle guards, so he releases them in an attempt to loosen out his hands.
Both the Anavysos Kouros and the seated Boxer show these athletes in a very naturalistic way, and although they are both very good, in the depiction of the human male form the seated boxer is far more natural looking. With the Seated Boxer, the face resembles an actual human face more than the Anavysos Kouros. This is because the Anavysos Kouros’ face is much more stylized with its fake looking smile, giant eyes, rounded cheeks and chin; the face almost looks like a mask, with its emotionless stare. The Anavysos Kouros also looks far too feminine in the face for the very masculine body. The Seated Boxer on the other hand, has a very human looking face, that matches the body quite well, you can very well see the emotion and pain in the face of the man, and his stare is more engaged and appears to be almost like a thousand yard stare.
The position of the Anavysos Kouros is also far less naturalistic compared to the Seated Boxer. The seated boxer’s position looks very much like a common position that you would find anyone sitting down on a small stool in, with his arms rested on his legs and his body hunched over a little to put some weight on his arms for comfort. The position of the Anavysos Kouros though, is quite stiff; there is not any bend in the knee to show any weight shift, the arms are straight at his sides, instead of singing with his stride, and his shoulders are rolled back in an unnatural way that suggests that he is quite uncomfortable.
Both of the statues are very natural looking when it comes to the structure of their bodies, but once again the seated boxer just appears to be much more natural. You can see how the skin folds when in a seated position and how fat accumulates around the abdomen. You can also see how his buttocks forms to the seat like on all humans. Just the detail of the body alone proves that the seated boxer is more natural looking, especially in the appearance of the legs, where you can clearly see each muscle in the legs, the bones in the feet, and the ankles; while in the Anavysos Kouros, the legs seem to be given less attention to because they appear to be a little out of proportion and instead of forming the muscle out of the stone, the sculptor just carved a line into the leg to make it look like the calf muscle was protruding.
Both statues show the beauty of the human body and resonate strength from their stone and bronze bodies. Each of their poses says something different about the statue; the Anavysos Kouros’ tall firm stance and stride says power, while the seated boxer’s pose shows the weakness in all men, no matter how strong or muscular they are. Their godly guise is matched with the soul of a human, and because of this we can identify with them, and make up our own story for them, with just a glance at their pose and facial expression.