Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Diadumenos - Youth Binding a Fillet - of Polykleitos

The Diadumenos - Youth Binding a Fillet on His Hair - by Polykleitos, c. 440 BCE

Polykleitos, of Doryphoros - Spear-carrier fame, again turns to the portrayal of human proportions, again with a male nude in contrapposto stance. The scene is an athlete binding his brow with the fillet signifying victory. Again, this is no portrait, but rather a portrayal of gently flowing rhythms in contour and line. The chiastic figure created by the contrapposto - where tension and relaxation alternate between left and right in legs, arm, and contour, is made more vivid by the raising of the arms. The pelvis tilts one way, the head and shoulders another, giving this statue the sensation of ordinary movement. It seems as if the accomplishments of the Artemision Zeus and Myron's Diskobolos were in capturing exaggerated poses, but here the artist -Polykleitos - is more focused on the body's response to rather more simple poses, requiring, if anything, more calculation. The chest and thorax here are more lively than in those two earlier works.
As Richard Brilliant says,
Beauty poised in kinetic balance seems to have been the object of Polykleitos' continuing concern for the creation of forms that would reveal the radiant capacities of the human figure, created as idal types without limit of time but present in the world andin space, similar to the figures in the Parthenon metopes and frieze. (Richard Brilliant, Arts of the Ancient Greeks (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1972) 173-4.