►Philosophy / Art:
“Evolution of the Concept of Beauty and Examples in Greek Sculpture”:
Plato considered beauty to be the Idea (Form) above all other Ideas.
Plato’s account in the “Symposium” connect beauty to a response of love and desire, but locate beauty itself in the realm of the Forms, and the beauty of particular objects in their participation in the Form.
In this platonic dialogue, beauty is at least as objective as any other concept, or indeed takes on a certain ontological priority as more real than particular Forms: it is a sort of Form of Forms.
Plato maintained that in addition to being able to identify a beautiful person or a beautiful painting, we also have a general conception of Beauty itself.
In other words, the beautiful things we can see are beautiful only because they participate in the more general Form of Beauty. This Form of Beauty is itself invisible, eternal, and unchanging, unlike the things in the visible world that can grow old and lose their beauty.
The universal elements of beauty according to Aristotle in his book “Metaphysics” are : order, symmetry, and definiteness or determinateness.
In “Poetics” he added another essential, namely, a certain magnitude, it being desirable, for a synoptic and single view of the parts, that the object should not be too large, while clearness of perception requires that it should not be too small.
Aristotle saw a relationship between the beautiful (to kalon) and virtue, arguing that “Virtue aims at the beautiful”. Aristotle also said that when the good person chooses to act virtuously, he does so for the sake of the “kalon”—a word that can mean “beautiful,” “noble,” or “fine. (Nicomachean Ethics. 1106b5–14)
Aristotle distinguished between the good and the beautiful. The good implies an action or conduct, while the beautiful is found only in motionless objects. “Beauty is a bodily excellence and produces many other good things.” Because “beautiful things are effects of mathematical sciences,” Aristotle viewed beautiful forms to have order, symmetry, and definiteness.
Aristotle says in the “Poetics” that “to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must present a certain order in its arrangement of parts” (Aristotle, “Poetics”, volume II, 2322).
Plato and Aristotle both regard beauty as objective in the sense that it is not localized in the response of the beholder.
The classical conception is that beauty consists of an arrangement of integral parts into a coherent whole, according to proportion, harmony, symmetry, and similar notions. This is a primordial Western conception of beauty, and is embodied in classical and neo-classical architecture, sculpture, literature, and music wherever they appear.
The Pythagorean school saw a strong connection between mathematics and beauty. In particular, they noted that objects proportioned according to the golden ratio seemed more attractive.
Ancient Greek Sculpture and Architecture are based on this view of symmetry and proportion.
Classical and Hellenistic sculptures of men and women produced according to the Greek philosophers’ tenets of ideal human beauty were rediscovered in Renaissance Europe, leading to a re-adoption of what became known as a “classical ideal”.
In his book, “Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime” (1764), Immanuel Kant describes the feeling of the sublime and the feeling of the beautiful.
Some of his examples of feelings of the beautiful are the sight of flower beds, grazing flocks, and daylight.
As to Kant, they “occasion a pleasant sensation but one that is joyous and smiling.”
Feelings of the sublime are the result of seeing mountain peaks, raging storms, and night. These ones, according to Kant, “arouse enjoyment but with horror”.
Beauty and the sublime can be joined or alternated. Kant claimed that tragedy, for the most part, stirs the feeling of the sublime. Comedy arouses feelings for beauty.
Kant subdivided the sublime into three kinds. The feeling of the terrifying sublime is sometimes accompanied with a certain dread or melancholy. The feeling of the noble sublime is quiet wonder. Feelings of the splendid sublime are pervaded with beauty.
For Kant, judgments of taste rest on something universal in human nature. So, correct judgments of taste, like the capacity to do the morally right thing, are available to all.
Friedrich Nietzsche disputes Kant’s view. He thinks that beauty may be highly personal, elusive, and not universally available, and perhaps is available only to aristocratic souls in unusual enhanced ecstatic experiences.
►Beauty as it appears in Classical and Hellenistic Greek Sculptures:
►I) Greek Sculptures from the Classic Period (480 / 323 B.C):
During the Classical Period (480 /323 B.C.) the Greek artists replaced the stiff vertical figures of the archaic period with three-dimensional snap shots of figures in action.
While the archaic sculptures appeared static the classical statues held dynamic poses bursting with potential energy.
Figures become sensuous and appear frozen in action; it seems that only a second ago they were actually alive. Faces are given more expression and whole figures strike a particular mood. Clothes too become more subtle in their rendering and cling to the contours of the body in what has been described as “wind-blown”.
The concept of dialectics began to take shape. The world became understood as a series of opposing forces that created a certain synthesis and a transient balance that always shifted to accommodate the movement of the opposing forces. So in sculpture the human figure became understood as a universe of opposing forces which created a perfect aesthetic entity the moment they achieved balance.
It was clear to an artist of the Classical period of Greece that the beauty of the whole depends on the harmony of the parts which comprise it, and that each part depends on the others in order to create a harmonious group.
►II) Greek Sculptures from the Hellenistic Period (323/31 B.C):
The Hellenistic period begins in 323 with the death of Alexander the Great and ends with the battle of Actio in 31 BC.
During this period, the Idealism of classical art gave way to a higher degree of Naturalism. While the interest in deities and heroic themes was still of importance, the emphasis of Hellenistic art shifted from religious and naturalistic themes towards more dramatic human expression, psychological and spiritual preoccupation, and theatrical settings. The sculpture of this period abandons the self-containment of the earlier styles and appears to embrace its physical surroundings with dramatic groupings and creative landscaping of its context.
Eroticism gained popularity during this period and statues of Aphrodite, Eros, Satyrs, Dionysus, Pan, and even hermaphrodites are depicted in a multitude of configurations and styles. Statues of female nudes became popular in Hellenistic art and statues of Venus in various poses and attitudes adorn the halls of many museums around the world.-
►Ancient Greek Sculpture:
“The three main periods: Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic”: