Sunday, April 01, 2007

The geometric horse

Indiana University, my alma mater, if the term may be used for graduate school, has a wonderful black-figure kylix with horses, and lots and lots of people. The horses grab your attention, though, since they are presented in groups, somewhat as they are in relief here on frieze of the vix krater. The kylix can be viewed better on site than here, so go here for the picture.

As you see from the giant krater, which is the glory of the little museum in Chatillon-sur-Seine, the horses are shown in front of and behind each other, so that the visual rhythm of their legs helps them get a move on. This is dated to around 530 BCE (the Bloomington kylix is also from around then, or a bit earlier). Just look at these horses, how admirable they are! The artist has taken special care with their manes, which look as if they have been braided, though it it doubtless the archaic vision of geometry which determines their form. Speaking of form, the lead horse is stretched out somewhat, permitting the artist to exaggerate or distort reality a bit for the sake of clarity and elegance. It is not a distortion, I hear it say: it's art.