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Greek Kouroi

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Another Point of View

Recently Professor Miranda Marvin of Wellesley College indicated to me that she believes that Pollitt does not have it quite right with the sports analogy we used when we examined the Kleobis and Biton figures. Moreover, she also has a slightly different view of ancient artists than we've just outlined. Here's the essence of her view, I quote from a letter:
"I hate Pollitt's football analogy; maybe I just don't get it, being a product of OSU and Woody Hayes football, not the Ivies. Where I would use a sports analogy is in talking about the status of artists. It is not that a sculptor was an artisan as opposed to a creative artist. The term "sculptor," "painter" etc was a much broader one than we have today in the arts where we separate artist from craftsman and make two categories. In antiquity there was one category----carver, modeller, painter etc. Some did it superhumanly, almost divinely, well; others did it badly. The terms are comparable to "ball player". Some ballplayers are demigods, superheroes to the whole nation, others are just sandlot players, not semi-divine but semi-pro at best. There is, however, a continuity between them, a long sliding spectrum, not a sharp cut off into two distinct categories. All ballplayers do the same thing; they play the same games. So Pheidias and Joe Blow the shop-sign carver were in the same line of work. Pheidias was a Major League All Star MVP, a Di Maggio style hero. Like sports heroes, too, they weren't thought of as upperclass, nor as intellectuals-----BUT they could become rich, famous, admired, transceding normal categories---just like sports stars. Hall of Famers; cult figures etc. Most, of course, just earned a living....."

Professor Marvin teaches classics and art history at Wellesley, a small women's college just outside of Boston. Her primary field is Roman art and archiecture, and in recent years her published work has raised serious questions as to whether modern notions of originality are applicable to ancient art and especially to Roman sculpture. In an effort to spread her ideas beyond a scholarly audience, she has helped create what I think is one of the best art history websites. If you are interested in how Professor Marvin develops her ideas in relation to a particular work of art, I strongly urge you to visit her site: The Truth In Advertising Project.

Virtually yours,

Minott Kerr
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History and Humanities

You can reach me at:

Back to: Archaic "Artists"

The term "kouros"
Looking at a kouros
The Egyptian Connection
Beyond Looking: Functions and Meanings
From Archaic Texts to Archaic Contexts
Kouroi: An Aristocratic Ideal?
Archaic "Artists"

Hum 110 | Syllabus | 110Tech | Reed Classics|110Tech | Reed Classics | Reed Library | Reed | Perseus