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Lysippan Studies. 1. The Only Creator of Beauty

A. F. Stewart
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 82, No. 2 (Spring, 1978), pp. 163-171
DOI: 10.2307/504491
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/504491
Page Count: 9
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Lysippan Studies. 1. The Only Creator of Beauty
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Abstract

Lysippos's Kairos (the "only creator of beauty") appears not to be a purely rhetorical work as some have thought, but a personal manifesto in bronze, his own view of his achievement personified. From a passage in Plutarch it seems that καιρός in Polykleitan aesthetics is the ideal canon, exactly the right choice among the various συμμετρίαι and ἁρμονίαι available in each particular case; Lysippos appears to have interpreted this as a challenge, and his Kairos is both a polemical statement of his own ideas on the role of καιρός in sculpture and an acknowledgment of his debt to Polykleitos, known from other sources. In the field of proportion (συμμετρία) he eschews the "square" canon of his predecessors for a new system that strives for elegance while seemingly conforming to everyday appearance; in that of composition (ῥυθμός), he gently chides them for their failure to evolve a satisfactory solution to the problem of movement, and proffers his own: a combination of two successive movements in a single statue (vide the Apoxyomenos), exactly balanced so as to give the impression of movement-a solution rediscovered only in the nineteenth century by Rodin. The imagery of the Kairos is to be seen as an extended metaphor for this artistic credo, and the statue itself as an embodiment of what Lysippos saw as the final solution to two of the three great problems of sculpture: proportion (συμμετρία) and movement (ῥυθμός); its contribution to the third (ἀκρίβεια) goes without saying.

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