Polykleitos: Revolutionizing the Classical Period

The attempt to create the perfectly proportionate sculpture during the Classical Period in Greece was a task sought out by many artists.Polykleitos, one of the well-known sculptors of the time, completed this task through his famous bronze statues.In doing so, Polykleitos revolutionized art.
Polykleitos, also known as Polyclitus, worked in the third quarter of the fifth century BC, at the time the Parthenon was being built.Born in either Argos or Sicyon, Polykleitos was no Athenian, but rather represented the rather unique sculptural tradition of Southern Greece (Boardman, 102).He attended the school of Argos, where he was a contemporary of Pheidias (also spelled Phidias).Eventually, Polykleitos became the head of the Argive school (infoplease.com).
Working mostly in bronze, Polykleitos' greatest works were of athletes and gods.They have been described as being stockier than Pheidias' sculptures at the Parthenon.Although none of the originals are known to still exist, many Roman marble copies have captured the beauty of Polykleitos' original sculptures (getty.edu).
Polykleitos sought out to find the ideal bodily proportions for a human statue, which reflected the thought of the time that perfection could be found in fixed mathematical relations that could be measured (Johnson, 62).Polykleitos documented his work in a book called the Kanon, or "Rule"; unfortunately, it has been lost and can only be referenced through other ancient works and copies of his statues (Greek Art, Boardman, 157).We do know, however, that the Kanon was concerned not with human anatomy, but rather with symmetria-the human body's ideal proportions (Boardman, 102).
Polykleitos captured the principles of symmetria in a statue of a spear-thrower, the Doryphoros.The original sculpture was to act as a demonstration piece to accompany Polykeitos' treatise, the Kanon.Although the original has not been …


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