Mayernik 1 The Dichotomy of Interpretations of Nike in ... ??The Dichotomy of Interpretations of Nike in Sculpture ... Following the Archaic period of Greek sculpture ... to Hellenistic sculpture – one can only conjure up the

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<ul><li><p>Mayernik 1 </p><p>The Dichotomy of Interpretations of Nike in Sculpture </p><p>At the edge of Central Park, amid the hustle and bustle of the surrounding metropolis of </p><p>New York City, stands the Sherman Monument, an imposing statue of a commanding general </p><p>perched on his horse. Positioned in front of the horse and its commander, an angelic figure </p><p>strides powerfully and confidently leading the horse and rider, diminishing the muscular form of </p><p>the animal with her strength and delicacy. The woman that is presented is Victory, a smaller </p><p>rendition located in the Carneige Museum of Art in Pittsburgh of a gilded bronze statue designed </p><p>by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The beauty of Victory, depicting Nike, the Greek Goddess of </p><p>Victory, stands as an exemplar of the Classical genre, a style of Greek art celebrating the </p><p>perfection, order, and balance, of the human figure. Imagine a different scene: atop the grand </p><p>steps of the entrance of the Denon Wing in the Louvre Museum appears the Winged Victory of </p><p>Samothrace, majestically powering the room with her grace. Although portraying the same </p><p>figures, each artists creates a unique masterpiece of Nike. While Saint-Gaudens work </p><p>encompasses the various aspects of Classical art portrayed through the sculptures balance, order, </p><p>and perfection, Winged Victory of Samothrace epitomizes Hellenistic Art using asymmetry, </p><p>movement, and drapery. Augustus Saint-Gaudens utilizes these elements of the Classical genre </p><p>of art to persuade the viewers that Victory is eminent in her dominance yet delicate in her beauty; </p><p>conversely, Winged Victory of Samothrace inspires natural beauty because of her imperfection. </p><p>The creation of the Classical and Hellenistic art genres dates back to the artistic </p><p>movements of ancient Greece and Rome. Following the Archaic period of Greek sculpture that </p><p>was inspired by Egyptian art, the Classical genre began in 500 BC. Sculptors began using real </p><p>subjects, and as they continued to study these subjects, they noticed that the relaxed, resting </p><p>positions of humans is one of shifted weight, cross-balance, and loose limbs. The Classical </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 2 </p><p>period is characterized by order, balance, and perfection, despite using more human subjects. </p><p>Saint-Gaudens Victory exemplifies this artistic movement. The shift from Classical to </p><p>Hellenistic Art began following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence </p><p>of the Roman Empire. Hellenism (loosely translated to the Greek term meaning one who uses </p><p>the Greek language) was not only a period of success for Greece, but also a shift in thought </p><p>from the Classical art genre. Artists found beauty in natural objects, movement, individuality, </p><p>and drapery. Not only were men appreciated for their bodies, but women began to be sculpted </p><p>and draped in dramatic garments to show their natural beauty. Winged Victory of Samothrace is </p><p>known as one of the best examples of sculpture to embody the characteristics of the Hellenistic </p><p>movement. </p><p>Saint-Gaudens Victory as a Classical Sculpture </p><p>Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an American sculptor known for crafting bronze historical </p><p>monuments, built the Central Park statue to honor General Sherman as he led the Union Army </p><p>that fought at Bull Run and at Shiloh and was infamous for his trail of destruction as his troops </p><p>seized Atlanta during the Civil War while marching to the sea. Sculpted of gilded bronze, the </p><p>monotonic gold color of the statue signifies richness, regalness, and superiority that the goddess </p><p>Nike bestows on the champion in a contest of combat, athletics, or other competition. Like other </p><p>works of the Classical period, the simplicity of the solid gold color entices the patron to focus on </p><p>the intricate details of the statue. Instead of infusing Victory with color, Saint-Gaudens relies on </p><p>his sculpting abilities to accentuate the figures flawless qualities, depending only on shadow and </p><p>shape to impart distinctive characteristics in the composition of the work. By not emphasizing </p><p>one aspect of the figure over others, the use of a uniform, solid color promotes balance and </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 3 </p><p>harmony characteristic of the Classical period. The solid gold color of the sculpture emphasizes </p><p>Victorys prominence as the leader of the champion of combat. </p><p>Saint-Gaudens use of body positioning and facial expressions show firmness and </p><p>perfection in his sculptures movement. Remaining poised and graceful throughout the hardships </p><p>of competition, Victory persuades her viewers to remain composed and confidence during </p><p>whatever adversities they may face in their lives. The expressionless yet flawless face of Victory </p><p>further categorizes the sculpture in the Classical genre. Victorys face does not stand out, call </p><p>attention to itself, or detract from the overall sculpture. Appearing neither anxious, nor scared, </p><p>nor worried, the woman remains confident through her exploits as her unblemished facial </p><p>features reveal her poise and grandeur. The slight rigidity in her neck and the softness in her jaw </p><p>line contribute to her Classical feminine beauty. Her slim lips frame her slightly perched-open </p><p>mouth as she inhales the fresh air. She appears in a trance as her open eyes gaze off into the </p><p>distance. The woman is not concerned with her immediate surroundings, as her eyes are fixed on </p><p>something outside the realm of her outstretched arm, beyond the tangible. Not completely </p><p>satisfied with previous triumphs, she looks forward to the hope of future successes. While it is </p><p>possible to define her facial features such as lips, nose, and cheek bones, she has no distinct </p><p>characteristics that call attention to any one aspect of her countenance. Thus, her facial features </p><p>are in balance and, because they represent the ideal form of the human body, lend an air of </p><p>harmony to the figure. The harmony among Victorys facial features encourages viewers to </p><p>believe in her sincerity. </p><p>The Classical genre of the sculpture is further evident in the curvature, flow, and </p><p>symmetry of Victorys wings. The wings are folded into her body, creating an aerodynamic form </p><p>which does not impede the forward motion of her strides. Attached near her scapula, her wings </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 4 </p><p>are proportionate to her body and evenly balanced. The curves in the composition of feathers </p><p>have a flowing softness further expressing her ethereal beauty and unparalleled perfection. </p><p>Viewing the wings of the sculpture enables people to recognize the inability to exactly emulate </p><p>the Goddess of Victory; however, it nevertheless encourages people to try to achieve their own </p><p>definition of perfection. Throughout his work, Augustus Saint-Gaudens uses qualities of the </p><p>Classical genre including balance, flawlessness, and harmony, along with use of medium and </p><p>color to portray Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory. </p><p>Winged Victory of Samothrace as a Hellenistic Sculpture </p><p> While Saint-Gaudens Victory is a Classical sculpture because of its harmony, balance, </p><p>and perfection of Nike, the same winged figure is Hellenistic in style in Winged Victory of </p><p>Samothrace in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Characterized by angularity, drapery of </p><p>garments, asymmetry, and dramatic movement that breaks the plane of its space, this Nike is </p><p>characterized by her majestic dominance in her natural beauty. Dating back to the first half of </p><p>second century BC, Winged Victory is the most famous monument to come out of Samothrace, </p><p>an ancient Greek island that was home to the Temple of the Sanctuary of the Greek Gods. The </p><p>2.5 meter statue was discovered in pieces in 1863 by the French archaeologist Charles </p><p>Champoiseau, and now stands majestically remastered in the Louvres Denon Wing. </p><p>The angularity of Winged Victory is not only a strong characteristic of the Hellenistic </p><p>movement, but also a powerful reminder of the imperfections of all woman, even a great Greek </p><p>goddess. Energetic and sensual in her body position, the winged woman strides forward with her </p><p>right foot, facing an eminent battle with pride and authority. Unlike Victorys perfect balance, </p><p>this Nike statue is on uneven ground. Despite missing her feet, one can only imagine the way in </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 5 </p><p>which her hard-wrought, muscular feet traverse the ground and kisses each step along the way. </p><p>The Hellenistic element of angularity is exemplified in the placement of the statute within the </p><p>staircase. Resting atop a 2 meter marble prow, Winged Victory strides forward and can be seen </p><p>from the entire staircase, the side staircases, and the balcony above. Just as it stood in the </p><p>Sanctuary of the Greek Gods in Samothrace as a majestic masterpiece, so too does it remain in </p><p>the foyer as an unforgettable view in every visitors journey through the Louvre. When viewed </p><p>from straight-on, one can immediately sense the slight tilt of her shoulders and the asymmetry of </p><p>her textured wings, as if her perfection is only second to her resiliency. Though she lacks a face, </p><p>she need not prove her perfection or balance in her countenance: each individual viewer of the </p><p>sculpture can create their own perception of what her head would be, creating a sense of </p><p>individuality that is lacking in the Saint-Gaudens Classical sculpture. From all angles, Winged </p><p>Victory of Samothrace contains majestic properties of Hellenism. While Saint-Gaudens </p><p>Classical figure is limited to only a 180-degree view, this Hellenistic sculpture is admired from </p><p>all angles, making her all the more impressive and definitively Hellenistic. </p><p>The most striking Hellenistic element of Nike of Samothrace comes with the dramatic </p><p>drapery of the garment across her body. With draping being inherently imperfect in nature and </p><p>therefore a key component to Hellenistic sculpture one can only conjure up the difficulty of </p><p>creating such dramatic folds and angles out of stone in the early 200 BC. The invisible force of </p><p>the wind creates a billowing effect in Nikes garments, as the conflicting forces of the wind and </p><p>her body playfully intertwine into a majestic dynamic against her body. Nikes powerful forward </p><p>movement is unrivaled by the forces blowing her back, and the material drapes tightly across the </p><p>contracted muscles of her torso and ripples unevenly across her breasts. The majority of her </p><p>garment clings to her powerful, muscular thighs and brushes past her angled hips to fly freely </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 6 </p><p>behind her in rigid crests. The Winged Victory of Samothrace makes no appearance of being </p><p>perfect, but simply inspires her viewers to appreciate the grace with which she handles the strong </p><p>forces. Contrary to Victory by Saint-Gaudens, Nike is far from perfect in her creation, and the </p><p>simplicity of the grey stone contrasts with the regality of the gilded figure crafted by Saint-</p><p>Gaudens. The Hellenistic art movement embraces this imperfection, and with it, the universal </p><p>theme that everyone faces their own hardships but can power through with persistence. </p><p>Saint-Gaudens Victory and the Louvres Winged Victory of Samothrace are two unique </p><p>portrayals of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory that exhibit different artistic elements. Saint-</p><p>Gaudens gilded masterpiece stands as a figure of perfection with balance and harmony as she </p><p>glides forward, leading General Sherman on horseback. Conversely, The Winged Victory of </p><p>Samothrace majestically strides forward with billowing drapery and naturalism with a sense of </p><p>actuality and urgency. The two figures, while of the same Greek goddess, are stylistically and </p><p>thematically different; while Victory is Classical in nature and encourages viewers to strive for </p><p>perfection, Winged Victory of Samothrace epitomizes Hellenism and inspires audiences to fight </p><p>through the inevitable imperfections of life. Whether crafted in 200 BC or 1903 AD, located in </p><p>Paris or in New York, sculpted from grey-marble or gilded, or characteristic of the Hellenistic or </p><p>Classical movements, Nike remains a timeless symbol of victory that all humans can strive to </p><p>achieve. </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 7 </p><p>Visual Texts </p><p>Victory Augustus Saint-Gaudens </p><p>Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh </p><p>Sherman Monument </p><p>Augustus Saint-Gaudens </p><p>Central Park, New York City </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 8 </p><p>Winged Victory of Samothrace </p><p>Muse du Louvre </p></li><li><p>Mayernik 9 </p><p>Bibliography </p><p>"Early Classical Greek Sculpture." Visual Arts Cork. Encyclopedia of Art and Classical </p><p>Antiquities, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. </p><p>"Grand Army Plaza." Monuments. NYC Parks, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. </p><p>"Hellenistic Period Overview." Atlas of World History. TimeMaps, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. </p><p>Kinnee, Lauren. The Nike of Samothrace (n.d.): n. pag. Yale.edu. Yale University, 2002. Web. </p><p>22 Apr. 2015. </p><p>Laccetti, Michelle. "The Sherman Monument." Foundations of America. N.p., 11 Oct. 2010. </p><p>Web. 17 Apr. 2015. </p><p>Lahanas, Michael. "Nike of Samothrace." Mlahanas.de. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2015. </p><p>"Nike." Theoi.com. Theoi Project Online, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. </p><p>"Nike Monument." Nike Monument. Emory University, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. </p><p>Saint-Gaudens, Augustus. "Victory." Carnegie Museum of Art. Carneige Museum of Art, n.d. </p><p>Web. 18 Apr. 2015. </p><p>"What Is Hellenism?" National Hellenic Museum. N.p., 30 May 2012. Web. 20 Apr. 2015. </p></li></ul>