As beauty seeks for wisdom in retreat


In sculpture, the inert becomes animate, or if not actually animate, certainly worked through by mind, infused with life, meaning and finality by mind. Although Aristotle’s example is of a sculptor working in bronze, maybe the paradigm sculptural case is the worker in stone. The typical sculptural instruments are chisel, hammer, knife, capable both of strength, necessarily so, but also delicacy. Aristotle would, of course, have known this well enough. Greek temples were virtual repositories of stone sculpture, both inside, with colossal statues of Athene, Zeus and other gods, and outside, as part of the architecture. And there were, of course, the kouroi, those astonishing marble figures, often life-sized, their faces and figures human in a way Egyptian sculpture is not, but without the illusionistic smoothness and softness of Hellenistic sculpture.

more from Anthony O’Hear at the Fortnightly Review here.