Critique is a constructive analysis of any work human performs, be it an art or an academic essay, and is essential in the development of the person who is being evaluated. If a person does not see any mistakes in his/her work and nobody helps out, he/she will keep on repeating them. Moreover, the critique of the recognized masterpieces helps those who study art see the standards set by their authors and, thus, learn from them. The two works of art chosen for the analysis are Marble Statue of a Seated Muse and Marble Statue of Hermes from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The first artwork discussed is a marble statue, which depicts a sitting woman covering with fabric her laps and feet. The statue is a sample of the classical antique art. There are the missing elements, such as the whole left arm and a part of the right arm cut from the elbow. Before the statue was damaged, the head of the depicted woman was resting on her hand. It is also important to note that the head of the statue used to belong to a different sculpture. Both the body and the head were taken from the group of statues, which depicted the musical contest between the satyr Marsias and the god Apollo. They are the only pieces of the composition, which have been restored. The sitting muse must have been the woman observing the contest.
The size of the sculpture is approximately the same as the size of a real person. The balance of the work is asymmetrical: the weight of the body is shifted to the front, since it leans forwards; the chest and the head are turned to the left; the right knee is placed higher than the left one. Coloring takes no part in creating balance, because the whole statue is ivory. However, the shade is important in revealing the balance. More specifically, the left side is more shadowed than the right one.
There is no evident emphasis on any of the elements of the work, since the sculpture is a part of a composition. While talking about the entire original work, the satyr and Apollo must have been the focus of attention among the group of sculptures. The work is perceived as a single unit, thus, when looking at the sculpture, the observer notices all the elements.
Deepening, protuberance, and shadow create the contrast, as well as balance of the muse. This is because the work is a sculpture, and its author uses only one color. There seems to be a distinct contrast between the skin of the woman and the fabric covering her legs. Her skin is smooth, whereas the fabric is all wrinkled. The contrast makes the statue look even more similar to a real person.
It is also possible to say that the statue possesses certain rhythm. For example, there are parallel lines on the woman’s belly, the wrinkles on the fabric continuously repeat, and the hair is arranged in the wavy pattern. There are no motifs, patterns and shapes used with the sole purpose of decoration.
When describing the work from the point of view of the six elements of art, it is worth mentioning the following features:
- Almost all lines in the sculpture are curved, what determines the position of the depicted figure.
- As for the value, the work is three-dimensional, so the areas on the left shoulder and the left side of the sculpture’s head and neck, as well as inside the wrinkles are the darkest ones.
- The texture of the discussed work of art is smooth. Such texture is common for the sculptures made of marble due to the techniques applied.
The purpose of the sculptor, who carved the group of statues, was to depict the scene from the Roman myth. Supposedly, the composition was used for the decoration of a spacious building. The sculpture from the museum represents a muse, who observes the contest and contemplates something at the same time. The strong sides of this artwork are good proportions, body curves and smooth surface. In other words, the sculpture has no drawbacks.
Another work to is the Marble Statue of Hermes. This is a sculpture of a standing man, who has a piece of fabric covering his left shoulder and arm. This statue, as well as the previous one, belong to the antique art, and, therefore, share many similar features. However, unlike the previously discussed work, this sculpture represents a straightly standing person. The original purpose of the sculpture was to decorate an ancient Roman villa.
Similarly to the Marble Statue of a Seated Muse, Marble Statue of Hermes is of a real person size with and realistic proportions. The balance of the work is asymmetrical: although the body is in a straight position, the right leg and left arm of the man are bent and his head is turned to the left.
The body position makes him look as if he is reaching out for something or wants to say something to somebody. The statue is made of marble only, so there are no color distinctions, which contribute to the balance. The shadows cast by the parts of the body emphasize their position and the curves of the man. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that the face and the chest are very symmetrical.
The shadows create the contrast, which looks very dark on the light surface of the smooth skin and wrinkles on the piece of fabric. There is also contrast in the lines, since the left leg is straight, whereas the right one is bent in the knee. The same with the arms: the right one is almost straight and the left one is bent.
There are no special features, which decorate the sculpture; however, the hair seems to be arranged in a repeated pattern. From the perspective of the major elements of art, the statue possesses the following traits:
- There is contrast between straight and curved lines in the work, which makes the position of the body distinctive.
- Since the discussed work of art is a sculpture, it is three-dimensional, so the areas under the protruding parts of the body and the fabric inside the wrinkles are the darkest ones. Deepness of the concavities on the stature determines the darkness of certain parts.
- The texture of the statue is smooth, and, thus, similar to the surface of the human body.
There is no obvious purpose or idea, which the author wanted to express through his/her work. She/he simply used the mythological motifs and the beauty of a human body to decorate the building. This may also be proved by the fact that the sculpture is the adaptation of the Greek statue made in the late 5th or early 4th century B. C.
As well as other samples of the antique art, this sculpture may be considered as perfect and, thus, a lot can be learned from its analysis. It corresponds to the body of a live person in all details, and the piece of fabric looks realistic. The sculpture does not have even smallest drawbacks.
It is worth paying attention to the models chosen by the both sculptors. They correspond to the standards of a human body in the ancient world being neither too skinny, nor too plump, the body is in a good fit; the noses are straight and the lips are of the average size.
To conclude, the two analyzed artworks are the samples of the antique sculptures. They both are made of marble, which is often the preferred material for such works. The first statue has been damaged, but its perfection continues to be admired. Most of the lines are curved and define the position of the body. As for the second sculpture, it is characterized by the contrast between the straight and curved lines. There is no color contrast in both works of art, but there is the contrast between the smoothness of the bodies and the wrinkles in the pieces of fabric, between the light and the shadowed areas. There are no patterns decorating them, the sculptures were made with the purpose of decoration. The mythical motifs unite the two works, and repeat the shapes of the human bodies, which standard in the ancient times. The sculptures discussed in the paper are perfect and there are many things, which can be learnt after analyzing them.