Learn how to take a closer look at a sculpture by applying the elements of design to the Kouros by Isamu Noguchi.
Line: Line is an important element in Noguchi’s Kouros. Although it is a three- dimensional object, it has a very clearly defined outline. A strong vertical line cuts through the middle of the sculpture, bisected by a horizontal line. The straight lines hold the curvy shapes together.
Shape and Form: Noguchi uses biomorphic, or natural shapes in Kouros. They are curvy and free-flowing like body parts, and rounded on the sides, giving them a form that resembles bones. The sculpture is like the skeleton of a body we have never seen before.
Color and Value: Kouros is carved from pink marble, and Noguchi has not altered its natural color. It resembles flesh tones, some lighter and some darker. The streaks in the marble look almost like veins, adding to the lifelike quality of Kouros. The value of the colors changes as light falls across the surface of the sculpture and creates shadows.
Space: Negative and positive space interact powerfully in this artwork. The negative spaces in the middle of the sculpture echo the carved shapes of the marble. The little oval piece about a third of the way up takes a bite out of the negative space on either side. The small hole in the top of the large piece of marble is like an eye socket without an eye.
Texture: The texture of Kouros is the same all over–as smooth as skin. The artist has worked hard to soften the rough edges of the marble so that it looks cool and silky. Imagine how different Kouros would be if its surface were rough instead of sleek.