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Statue of a Kouros (MET)

WLA metmuseum Marble statue of a kouros youth 2

Statue of a Kouros

This marble statue of a Kouros is one of the earliest sculptures of a human figure carved in Athens from 590–580 B.C.

The statue was used to mark the grave of a young Athenian aristocrat. Kouros means youth, or boy, especially of noble rank, in ancient Greek.

The rigid stance with the left leg forward and arms straight down the side was derived and influenced by monumental Egyptian statues.

The Egyptian figures usually wore loincloths or other clothing and typically represented only the Kings of Egypt.

The Greek innovation was that sculpture is cut away from the stone and was not embedded in rock. There is also no stone holding the legs together.

There is more free space between the arms and the chest. In essence, this figure was freed from the rock.

This pose provided a simple style used by Greek sculptors in the 6th century B.C. as they learned the art of sculpting human figures.

This early sculpture featured geometric forms and anatomical details that were rendered in beautiful proportional patterns.

Greek marble nude sculpture evolved with experimentation. In the classical period, a century after this figure, Greeks made figures that stood in contrapposto.

Contrapposto was a more natural pose with a turned waist where the weight is shifted to one leg. The body became asymmetrical and more natural.

The nude first became significant in art through Ancient Greece. Athletic competitions influenced Greek culture at religious festivals, which celebrated the human body.

The athletes competed in the nude, and the Greeks considered that the athletes represented the ideal in humanity and culture.

 The Ancient Greeks associated the male nude form with triumph, glory, and moral excellence. Images of naked athletes stood as offerings to the Gods in holy sanctuaries, and athletic nudes portrayed Greek religious gods.

Western art, through Roman copies of Greek nude sculpture, borrowed the artistic language of the nude.

Nudity portrayed the perfected ideal conceptually and moved the mind and the passions.

The famous Laocoön Statues influenced Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel nudes.

The Laocoön statues originated and evolved from the Statue of a Kouros.

Statue of a Kouros

This Statue of a Kouros was the beginning and birth of the Western art tradition of many sculptural masterpieces that we see in Art Museums today.

Statue of a Kouros

  • Title:              Statue of a Kouros
  • Date:             ca. 590–580 B.C.
  • Period:           Archaic
  • Culture:         Greek, Attic
  • Medium:        Marble, Naxian
  • Dimensions:   H: 76  in. (195 cm); W:  20 in. (52 cm)
  • Museum:        Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET, New York, USA

Statue of a Kouros

New York Kouros

MET Greek and Roman Art Collection



MET Egyptian Art Collection

MET Asian Art Collection

Anavysos Kouros

MET Ancient Near Eastern Art Collection

MET Islamic Art Collection

MET Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Collection

Anavysos Kouros & Kore

MET European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Collection

MET Medieval Art Collection


MET Arms and Armor Collection

MET Photograph Collection

Metropolitan Kouros


“Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way, and nothing stays fixed.”
– Heraclitus


Photo Credit: 1) By Wikipedia Loves Art participant “Futons_of_Rock” [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons; InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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