Kings (Ancient Egypt, Middle Kingdom)

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Art historians going back to Winckelmann in the 18th C. typically held up Greek art over Egyptian art. Greek art represented the apex of humanism, in contrast to Egyptian art, which was hieratic and static. Recently on view at the Met, these splendid pharaonic heads from Middle Kingdom ancient Egypt flip the table. In contrast to these fully realized human figures, the human figure in Greek sculpture is smooth and only idealized. These Egyptians are at once aloof and arrogant, worn with care and sunk in thought. The closer you get, the better they look. These god-like icons of power remain, for all that, more human than ideal in their realization.

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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