The contraposto (from Italian contrapposto "contrast, piece") is a design element in sculpture . It describes the juxtaposition of the standing and free legs of a human figure to balance the weight relationships. The pelvis emerges from the vertical axis of the body. The swing of the hip caused by the resulting shift in weight with the inclined position of the pelvis in balance is also symptomatic of playing with opposites such as rest - movement, tension - relaxation, lifting - lowering, which ultimately lead to a homogeneous balance.
The modern term ponderation also refers to the balance of weight relationships. Optimal ponderation is achieved by standing upright, symmetrically. In this case, both legs are standing legs, there is no counter post.
The motif of the contrapost was first introduced by classical Greek sculptors , especially Polyklet . Compared to the more static-looking sculptures of earlier epochs, contrapost was able to express burden and lightheartedness, calm and movement as well as the bondage and freedom of the human body. In medieval sculptures, the counter post is rarely present. It was not until the Renaissance that artists picked up on the motif again - among them Donatello in the first place and later Michelangelo . Since then, it has also been used by painters in their paintings.
In addition, it also plays a major role in the stage gestures in the theater of the Renaissance and Baroque, as it is considered the basis for beautiful standing. Here it is often called the stage cross .