AP Art History : Understanding terminology that describes fourteenth- through sixteenth-century sculpture

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Art History

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Understanding Terminology That Describes Fourteenth Through Sixteenth Century Sculpture

Michelangelo's David displays this compositional technique, wherein the figure's posture is tense on one side and relaxed on the other because its weight is shifted disproportionately to one foot.

Possible Answers:

Interaxial balance

Figura serpentinata

Formal balance


Correct answer:



"Contrappusto" (meaning counterpose in Italian) is the term used to describe a posture in which the figure's weight is shifted to one foot, causing the shoulders and hips to twist off the body's central axis so they are no longer parallel, as seen in David. It was introduced in Classical Greek art and rediscovered in the Renaissance.

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