Thebeskouros.jpe

I learned about the archaic smile when taking art history in college.

The Archaic smile was used by Greek Archaic sculptors, especially in the second quarter of the 6th century BC, possibly to suggest that their subject was alive. The smile is flat and quite unnatural looking, although it could be seen as a movement towards naturalism, if such a move is sought. One of the most famous examples of the Archaic Smile is the Kroisos Kouros.

The dying warrior from the west pediment of the Temple of Aphaia, Aegina, Greece is an interesting context as the warrior is near death.

In the Archaic Period of Ancient Greece (roughly 600 BCE to 400 BCE), the art that proliferated contained images of people who had the archaic smile. It is a smile which invokes a feeling of happiness via ignorance in modern interpreters. It has been theorized that in this period, artists felt it either represents that they were blessed by the gods in their actions, thus the smile, or that it is similar to fake smiles in modern photos.

The significance of the convention is not known, although it is often assumed that for the Greeks this kind of smile reflected a state of ideal health and well-being. It has also been suggested that it is simply the result of a technical difficulty in fitting the curved shape of the mouth to the somewhat blocklike head typical of Archaic sculpture.

The term always amused me and I thought of it when I had difficulty in my sculpture class with the mouth of a sculpture. I noticed a photo recently that reminded me of that archaic smile.

hillaryclintonarchaicsmiletwo

Is the smile just fake or does Hillary believe she is blessed by the gods?