Spotlight Artist: Greek Sculpture - Kouros figure

Greece ca. 530 BCE Marble approx. 6’ 4” high. National Archaeological Museum, Athens


A kouros (Ancient Greek: κοῦρος, pronounced [kûːros], plural kouroi) is the modern term[1] given to free-standing ancient Greek sculptures that first appear in the Archaic period in Greece and represent nude male youths. In Ancient Greek kouros means "youth, boy, especially of noble rank". Although Kouroi have been found in many ancient Greek territories, they were especially prominent in Attica and Boiotia.[2] The term kouros was first proposed for what were previously thought to be depictions of Apollo by V. I. Leonardos in 1895 in relation to the youth from Keratea,[3] and adopted by Henri Lechat as a generic term for the standing male figure in 1904.[4] Such statues are found across the Greek-speaking world; the preponderance of these were found in sanctuaries of Apollo with more than one hundred from the sanctuary of Apollo Ptoion, Boeotia, alone.[5] These free-standing sculptures were typically marble, but the form is also rendered in limestone, wood, bronze, ivory and terracotta. They are typically life-sized, though early colossal examples are up to 3 meters tall.

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Essential Questions

Answer the following questions completely and with specificity to the provided resources, personal reflection, and additional research as needed: ​

  1. During which period of Greek history was this Kouros sculpture made? ​

  2. Define: 1) in-the-round, 2) relief, 3) symbolic, 4) naturalistic, 5) stylized, 6) abstract, 7) kouros, 8) kore

  3. Explain some similarities and differences between the kouros sculptures and those preceding them - Paleolithic, Egyptian, and Cycladic.

CURIOUS? Here's more information: The female counterpart to the Kouros is the Kore. Remember, all these statues were originally painted with bright colors. Here, you can paint your own Peplos Kore.

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