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Art History Essay

September 14th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Greek art was influence primarily by the uniqueness of the human being. The human figure gradually emerged as the dominant symbol in Greek culture. This is seen by the all the various sculptures that were created that specifically showed the beauty and strength of the human body. Greek sculpture evolved from an emphasis on geometry to an emphasis on naturalism. Greek art also attempted to imitate nature and life in vibrant and realistic human terms. The Greeks looked upon nature as possessing some sense of life. The Greeks were extremely attentive to the stars in the cosmos.

Gothic Art was mainly influence by the Greek and Roman traditions, brought together by Christianity. Gothic artist took on the Greek ideas that geometry was an important part of any true picture or image of reality. There was always a strong presence of religion, in particular Christianity in Gothic Art. The art always made reference to Christ, if not by an actually picture, by the symbol or number three to represent the trinity. The Middle Ages accepted the Greek description of the cosmos, but they also felted that Christ was behind it. Medieval ideology felt that all material things, from rocks to animals to human beings, are reflections and images of the presence of God.

There were several new ideas and creations that made up Renaissance Art. The first was the discovery of perspective, the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface done by Brunelleschi. Renaissance art basic realism was justified by human perception itself. Objectivity was one of the main new features of the perspective image. Objectivity added a new quality of detail to artistic images. Perspective focused attention in a new way on the subjective individual while at the same time emphasizing the objective world of nature. Renaissance art confirmed the importance of the earth and of the human within the cosmic order.

Baroque artist were influence by Michelangelo da Caravaggio. He shifted the vanishing point from the center of a painting and toward the spectator. The art during the Baroque period was largely due to the Reformation. The striking exploration of light, space, composition, and human emotion reflected the early phases of democracy, capitalism, and the rise of the middle class.

Academic painting was largely about the bourgeoisie having the need for confirmation of its new position of power. The thought that influence Academic painting was to portray the middle class as the heroic element maintaining a new social order. Many of the paintings during this time are basic portraits with emotionless expressions on the subject?s faces. Also, Academic artist were determined to create detail in their paintings to rival the realness of photography.

The birth of Avant-Garde Art started with Edouard Manet. The thought behind this type of art initially was to challenge photography by incorporating some of its new way of seeing a painting, not by imitating its factual detail. Manet changed the subject matter and form of painting toward a more direct and flexible contact with modern life.

An art piece that I liked was the “Laocoon Group”. This is a beautiful artwork. The detail in muscular definition on each of their bodies especially the man in the middle is remarkable. This looks like a sculpture that was done the 21st century. You can also see much emotion in all their faces and feel how terrifying the situation is. The sculpture captured the various textures of in the art. You can tell the difference textures in their clothing, hair, and skin. There is a lot of movement also in the sculpture.

The function of this sculpture was to display the show of human emotions. After the war between Athens and Sparta, Greek Art changed from a confidence in human potential as almost godlike to a strong sense of human limitation, and the art moved more to naturalism.

I don’t feel that this sculpture had any affect on the mass media because of just that, it is a sculpture and not a painting. I may be wrong in that assessment, but I don’t see how mass media has been affected by this particular piece. As far as Greek culture, yes.

The next artwork I liked was “Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride” by Jan van Eyck. Once again the artist captures the various textures in the picture. The man is wearing a fur-like jacket, as oppose to the cotton-like material the women is wearing. The artist also captures the realism of the metal chandelier hanging from the ceiling and the mirror on the back wall. The bodies of the subjects look a bit stylized in the fact the woman’s upper body is so small and her legs seem to be very long. There is also no emotion at all showing on either of their faces. All in all there is an enormous amount of detail throughout the whole painting.

The function of the painting, first off is a wedding theme. The painting also has several religious and social symbols. For example, the dog is a symbol of fidelity, the mirror is a symbol of God, the oranges represent the cold of Northern Europe and Van Eycks signature at the bottom of the painting suggest the painting is a legal wedding document.

I think this painting has had an influence on mass media. This painting is from the Renaissance period, which was the period that the vanishing point was discovered. The style in which the painting was painted is still very much used today.

Finally, the last painting that I found interesting was from the baroque period, “Still Life” by William Kalf. At first glance at this artwork you would think that it was a photograph. This is another remarkable painting to me. Kalf captures without a doubt the different textures of the fruit, the glasses, the wood table, and the cloth. The most remarkable thing to me is how he painted the glare of light passing through the glasses. I really get no feel of a vanishing point in this painting so I?m assuming that there wasn’t one. As far as the function goes, the paintings suggest exuberance of Dutch capitalism. This painting wouldn’t be in the house of a poor person.

This painting has definitely had an affect on the mass media. The realism of this painting is beyond belief. This is the type of picture that photographers try to capture using lights and flashes from a camera. The whole art of photography is to capture realism such as this.


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