♦♦♦♦♦The statue of David by Italian artist Michelangelo is famous for its beauty and sense of balance. Notice how the figure leans on the right leg, shifting weight in such a way that the right hip is forced upward while the right shoulder slopes downward.
This is both a reflection of the human body in nature and it creates a dynamic that is pleasing to look at with the two sides of the body engaged in opposite actions: one arm up, the other down; one leg straight, the other bent; the hip and shoulders are unparalleled; and with the head looking off to the left, the body creates an “S” shape to the figure which is supposed to be pleasant to the viewer.
Michelangelo and other artists of the Renaissance used this pose, including da Vinci, Raphael, and Boticelli:
Posing the subjects in works of art in this particular way is known as contrapposto. The influence of this style can be seen in later works. Look at these examples:
In modern visuals, the contrapposto is everywhere:
So where does contrapposto originate? It can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. The first known example of contrapposto is the Kritios Boy, a marble statue dating back to 480 B.C. It’s possible there were more works of art in a similar style, but none have survived (or have been found so far).
Additional information according to Wikipedia:
“The first known statue to use contrapposto is Kritios Boy, c. 480 BC, so called because it was once attributed to the sculptor Kritios. It is possible, even likely, that earlier Bronze statues had used the technique, but if they did, they have not survived and Kenneth Clark called the statue “the first beautiful nude in art”. The statue is a Greek marble original and not a Roman copy. Prior to the introduction of contrapposto, the statues that dominated ancient Greece were the archaic kouros (male) and the kore (female). Contrapposto has been used since the dawn of classical western sculpture. According to the canon of the Classical Greek Sculptor Polykleitos in the 4th century BC, it is one of the most important characteristics of his figurative works and those of his successors, Lysippos, Skopas, etc. The Polykletian statues for example Discophoros (discus-bearer) and Doryphoros (spear-bearer) are idealized athletic young men with the divine sense, and captured in contrapposto. In these works, the pelvis is no longer axial with the vertical statue as in the archaic style of earlier Greek sculpture before Kritios Boy. Contrapposto can be clearly seen in the Roman copies of the statues of Hermes and Heracles. A famous example is the marble statue of Hermes with the infant Dionysus in Olympia by Praxiteles. It can also be seen in the Roman copies of Polyclitus’ amazon. Classical contrapposto was revived in the Renaissance by the Italian artists Donatello and Leonardo da Vinci, followed by Michelangelo, Raphael and other artists of the High Renaissance.”
- Contrapposto (planestrainsandvespas.wordpress.com)