Spotlight Artist: Kritios Boy

from the Acropolis Athens, Greece c. 480 BCE (CLASSICAL) Marble, approx. 3’ 10” high. Acropolis Museum, Athens NOTE: While it's important that you know the general time periods and countries of origin for each presented Artist Spotlight, this is the only one for which you need to know the exact date. It's just that important.

Art Code: "Talent is cheap."


The Kritios boy belongs to the Late Archaic period and is considered the precursor to the later classical sculptures of athletes. The Kritios or Kritian boy was thus named because it is believed to be the creation of Krito, the teacher of Myron, from around 480 BCE. The statue is made of marble and is considerably smaller than life-size at 1.17 m (3 ft 10 ins).

With the Kritios Boy the Greek artist has mastered a complete understanding of how the different parts of the body act as a system. The statue supports its body on one leg, the left, whiles the right one is bent at the knee in a relaxing state. This stance forces a chain of anatomical events as the pelvis is pushed diagonally upwards on the left side, the right buttock relaxes, the spine acquires an “S” curve, and the shoulder line dips on the left to counteract the action of the pelvis (contra-posto).

The Kritios Boy exhibits a number of other critical innovations that distinguish it from the Archaic Kouroi that paved its way. The muscular and skeletal structure are depicted with unforced life-like accuracy, with the rib cage naturally expanded as if in the act of breathing, with a relaxed attitude and hips which are distinctly narrower. As a final fore bearer of the classical period, the “smile” of Archaic statues has been completely replaced by the accurate rendering of the lips and the austere expression that characterized the transitional, or “Severe” period from the Archaic to the Classical era.

(excerpt from


Contraposto handout



Essential Questions - Watch the video and read the synopsis prior to answering these questions.

  • 1. This sculpture represents a "transitional" style of Greek sculpture. What is the name of this specific style/time period in Greek history (not Late Archaic) AND which two periods does it bridge? 2. Explain "contrapposto": 1) What does the term mean, literally 2) How does it show itself in the Kritios Boy, and 3) Why is it so important? 3. Compare and contrast Kritios Boy to the statues that would come later in the Middle Ages.

  • Why do you suppose the Art Code for this work is "Talent is cheap."? What does that mean?

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square