The Last Supper
This work of art functioned as religious propaganda at the time it was painted. This was in an attempt to remove the foreign elements from the story of the last supper from the Italian Christians at the time. Christians at the time were concerned with viewing the Last Supper in their own image and not as some foreign Jewish happening (Frojmovic, 2002). This saw da Vinci depict the characters as Italians with only the appearance of Judas being seen as the only foreign element.
The Renaissance period was largely influenced by Christianity given that Europe was predominantly Christian. This saw art at the time attempt to reimagine religious messages, depict scenes from the bible and generally promote Christianity among the population. This work of art was therefore meant to alter the attitudes and opinions concerning Christianity and make it more popular thereby making it religious propaganda.
Name of Artist: Jaques-Louis David
Napoleon in his Study
This work of art depicts the emperor Napoleon in a positive light so as to portray him as an able leader. Primarily functioning as political propaganda, the painting depicts Napoleon donning expensive clothing, having papers all around him, the melted candles and as well the clock in the background perhaps eluding to a fact that he was up all night. The propaganda is meant to depict him as a determined, trustworthy and loyal leader.
Political propaganda flourished in the Baroque period given that it was during the time of the French Revolution. It was therefore important to rally the masses and as well the soldiers behind their emperor to ensure the survival of the empire (Janson & Anthony, 2001). This work of art is therefore an attempt to ensure the masses view their leader in a positive light and follow his direction whenever called upon.
c. Age of Enlightenment
Name of Artist: Alfred Leete
The work of art features British Lord Kitchener pointing out to Britons to join the army and participate in the war. Functioning as war propaganda, this work of art uses the image of Lord Kitchner pointing out and the bold lettering to call to attention all British people as to the seriousness of the war and to ensure everybody engages either as factory workers or soldiers.
During the period of World War I, governments would turn to artists to help spread the message that they were at war and appeal to their patriotism and national sentiment to ensure participation and see their individual country’s win (Janson & Anthony, 2001). This poster was quickly spread through the mass media and appealed to the reasoning and logic of the British masses.
Name of Artist: Mjölnir ,Hans Schweitzer
Our Last Hope—Hitler
This work of art was political propaganda meant to portray German ruler Hitler as the savior of the German people. The work of art features German people that are unemployed and generally poor and portrays in bold that Hitler is the only savior likely to help them from their current state.
Arising from German expressionism, this work of art was used during German presidential elections as propaganda meant to portray Hitler as a savior for the people. During this time, there was a great depression in the country with high unemployment and general poverty and portraying Hitler in this way meant he would likely get more votes (Janson & Anthony, 2001).
2. When looking at major changes in the way people thought of themselves and their culture, it is interesting to note that the ideas from ancient Greek and Roman philosophies are often referenced as the model for “re- thinking” or re-examination of oneself and one’s cultural attitudes. (You must answer both parts.)
a. What are the key points of the ancient Greek philosophies that emerged in the Renaissance and the“Age of Enlightenment”? (Hint: fundamentals of humanism)
The main major Greek philosophies to be found in these ages are an increased interest in logic and reason and humanism. Humanism was largely concerned with using Greek philosophies and teachings to further Christian theology at the time. The focus of humanistic approaches was therefore on poetry, rhetoric, grammar, morality and historical philosophies. An emphasis on logic and reasoning was in response to traditional Christian teachings that were challenged by many Greek philosophers. Empirical studies based on scientific facts and truths became integral to art during this period with individuals needed to engage their cognition to deal with different issues surrounding church and even political reform (Janson & Anthony, 2001).
b. In particular, in anticipation of Modernism, what was “the importance of the individual”, “thinking for yourself” and using “critical thinking and logic” in these discussions about how one thought of oneself and one’s culture?
The individual is important in society as a unique and critical person able to make their own decisions without following societal values or standards. The individual is expected to have their own personal interests which then shape how they relate to their society. In this regard, the individual is seen as a critical thinker and egoistic and does not follow others blindly (Kelly & Stephen, 2000). Such critical thinking involves the individual carefully analyzing different elements of the said culture before amalgamating them together and based on their own interests, takes a course of action. Within the society however, the individual is expected to act in a moral manner, hold their own opinions and think independently. In the end, the society is viewed as a collection of the individuals therein and is only as good or moral as the members within it.
3. How did the Protestant movement in Northern Europe change the art world of Northern Europe?
a. How did the religious movements change the art market in the North?
The protestant movement came as a reform struggle against corruption and abuses that were perpetuated by the Roman Catholic Church. The movement began in German and subsequently spread to Britain, Holland and Switzerland leading to a split between the Protestants and Roman Catholics (Janson & Anthony, 2001). Protestantism led to development of new forms of art that spread the religious agenda of the Protestants and differed from art of the renaissance period that were present in other parts of Europe. For instance, biblical representations in art were shunned by Protestants and focus shifted to plain and more personalized messaging in works of art. This meant that there was a huge reduction in number of religious art produced in these countries. This subsequently forced writers to engage in other forms of secular art such as still life’s, historical painting and portraits.
b. How did the growing world trade economy create new markets for art?
New markets for art were primarily created as a result of the development of selling mechanisms such as art exhibitions, fairs, studios and markets across the world, the emergence of collectors of art and as well the production of movable artworks. In addition, auctions became for works of art became widespread after the 17th century allowing for more markets. The growth of world trade also saw increase in communication mechanism such as the internet and cultural integration through globalization that made sure art was appreciated in different areas across the world.
c. For these new markets, what innovations or changes in art making developed? Select examples to illustrate your answer.
The innovations that took place involved experimental ones such as incorporation of more colors to produce lights and shadows and conceptual innovations that sought to create a sense of perspective. The innovation with regards to perspective saw ideas on drawing three-dimensional works of art on surfaces that were flat. This saw works such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Perspective that utilizes a linear perspective approach. This innovation saw artists able to create more realistic paintings and works of art. In being able to enhance realism, as well as innovations geared towards reproduction of shadows and use of external light sources, traditional artists were able to penetrate these new markets that were predominantly made of wealthy individuals across the world.
4. The Baroque period in European history was a time of very powerful kings and aristocratic classes of people.
a. How does Baroque architecture demonstrate the function of art as a reflection of the wealth and power of the kings and rulers?
An important characteristic of Baroque architecture was a focus on theatricality, decorations, dramatic effects, plasticity and massing. The Saint Peters Square in Rome for example is an ideal example of the architecture of this time. The oval church is decorated with an ornate gold dome and polychrome marbles pointing to the wealth and status of the papalcy at the time.
Lorenzo Bernini’s St. Peter’s Square
Baroque architecture was additionally characterized with heavy structures and pillars. In addition, the location of these areas was largely accessible to the public so that they could view the buildings and admire the prestige therein.
b. In discussions of late Baroque, or the “Rococo” period, what characteristics or elements of the
paintings made during this period demonstrate the attitudes of the wealthy classes and their relationship to the actual social and living conditions of their time?
The Rococo period saw the depiction of the excesses of the wealthy and the ruling class in society. Nonetheless, this period saw increased freedom among the people following the coming to rule of King Louis the XV that saw relaxation of rigid laws (Janson & Anthony, 2001). Subsequently, paintings are to be seen showing elements of beauty, playfulness, romance and beauty such as in Jean-Honore Fragonard’s Stolen Kiss. Additionally, the period sees the painting of aristocrats that are elegantly dressed and playing in different landscapes such as Jean Antoine Watteau’s The Lesson of Love. However, there would be great anger towards the king following some period of depression and this is to be seen in paintings such as The Blonde Odalisque that sought to show the extramarital affairs of the king at the time.
5. In describing the various styles which defined the beginnings of Modern Art, the artworks of the French artists Monet and Cezanne are often cited as major demonstrations of a “new way of looking”, as Sister Wendy labels these painters. To what does this “new way of looking” refer to? You may present a bullet list of the characteristics of the art which demonstrate a “new way of looking”. Include examples of their work that illustrates your answer. (Hint: major characteristics of Modernism.)
- Response to the surroundings – the artists made paintings that depicted happenings in their surroundings. For instance, Manet’s Olympia was in response to promiscuity in France while Cezane’s Pot of Primroses and Fruit shows his depiction of the environment around him as it is.
- Expansive Canvas – both the works of Monet and Cezane sees the viewers eye move beyond the canvas as they are wide.
- Impressionist – the use of natural light is widely utilized by the two artists as seen in Monet’s Camille Monet on Her Deathbed and as well Cezane’s Pot of Primroses and Fruit in which there is no real regard for form but rather a focus on light.
6. Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Wheat Fields with Crows” was cited by Simon Sharma in his video “The Power of Art” as the first true work of Modern Art. Please explain how this work demonstrates some of the defining ideas and characteristics of the Modernist movement. You may use a “bullet list” format for your answer instead of the essay format to save time.
- Expansive – the work of art is wide and appears to move well beyond the canvas.
- Iconography – Van Gogh utilizes a wheat field and crows as subjects in the painting. In addition, he makes use of a stormy sky as an icon in the work.
- Symbolism – the stormy skies in the painting are meant to depict the sadness and loneliness in the life of the painter at the time given that he would later on commit suicide pointing to a sad and disturbed mindset.
- Response to surroundings – this work of art was in response to the authors surrounding of the countryside at the time it was painted.
7. Cubism was one of the major innovations to appear in Modern Art. (Answer both parts.)
a. What were some of the explanations of the basic concepts behind the style? In particular, even
though early examples of cubism were seen as major distortions and abstractions in image making, how did early Cubism represent a truly different way of looking at subjects? (Hint: details verse the whole)
Cubism allowed the artist of the time to be able to depict and see real life objects in a totally different manner. The movement incorporated the use of texture, color and even text at some point in order to create different visualizations for the viewer (Janson & Anthony, 2001). The paintings herein are not always meant to be realistic in nature but are rather the culmination of piecing together of individual fragments from different vantage points and ultimately make one whole painting. The artist normally views the subject matter from each and every angle before deciding on which pieces to bring together. In so doing, the artist tries to provide a detailed and fuller explanation of the subject matter therein and therefore breaks historical barriers of time and space in paintings.
b. Perhaps one of the most important Cubist work created in the 20th century was Picasso’
“Guernica”. What make this painting so important in Art History? (Hint: the contradiction of history and Modernism.)
The Guernica is an exemplification of the changing narratives of art in history. At the period in which Picasso came up with it, art was mostly concerned with mythological and religious issues, landscapes and portraits. However, he came up with the artwork to make a political statement that was largely unheard of at the time. In this way, he shifts from the traditional representational form of art into more expressions from the artist and seems to engage the viewer more in the work of art and its interpretation. He also utilized collage making which was a radical shift at the time given that it was not regarded as high art at the time.
8. The artworks, especially paintings, of the Abstract Expressionism, were essentially endpoints for the agenda of Modern art.
a. Explain how Abstract Expressionism demonstrated the achievement of “pure art”; that is, art that was “art for art’s sake”.
Abstract expressionism sought to move art from mere decorations and attempt to input the personality of an individual artist into their work (Janson & Anthony, 2001). This meant that that works of abstract expressionists were viewed as revelations and events that engaged the viewer deeper than other art. Issues of utilizing pure lines, pure paint and color meant that abstract expressionists’ works could be felt by viewers, were undefinable in academic terms and were free from conventional rules of art making.
The artist was able to assert their own individuality into the work making them to some extent part of the subject matter (Janson & Anthony, 2001). Viewing of such works was seen as a pure experience with the paintings being larger and in some instance moving beyond the field of view of the viewer. The motive of abstract expressionists was therefore to ensure painting became a moral activity that could evoke sentiment in the viewer and abide by ethics of the art as opposed to commercialization of the same.
b. What was it about Abstract Expressionism that many people found the art “too difficult”?
The depiction of authentic emotions in the work of abstract expressionists was a major impediment to other artists hence terming it as too difficult. In addition, may saw the style as being at odds with happenings across the world that were more concerned with issues of consumerisms and commercialization of the practice of art. In this regard, it followed that a majority of works of abstract expressionists were similar to the works of pioneer artists such as de Kooning for instance making such works to lack a real emotional authenticity to them (Janson & Anthony, 2001). It would appear that translating real emotions into their work was a major challenge hence the decision to shun abstract expressionism altogether.
c. How did Abstract Expressionism set the stage for the emergence of “Pop Art?”
The focus on abstraction by artists meant that they were at odds with growing trends across the globe that was focused on a consumerism culture. This saw the growth of pop art in the 1950s which was more accommodative of consumerism and the mass media. This was seen as alternative to pure abstraction and saw that works of art could create fluid and multiple meanings for the viewers (Janson & Anthony, 2001). In this way, combinations of different everyday images and objects could be used in artworks such as newspapers or even flags. Rauschenberg is one artist for instance who utilized combines to make different works of art such as the Bed of 1955 that seemed to reject pure abstraction.
9. In the documentary about , Maya Lin’s “Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial”, the work was associated with much political controversy. It also was prime example of art in the Post-Modern mindset. The “Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial” is clearly an example of “public art”; art that is made to be seen by anyone and everyone. How strongly should government/politics influence public art? (HINT: it’s about censorship.)
The influence of governments when it comes to regulation of public art should at all times be minimal given the complexities when it comes to censorship of material for instance. Public art is normally geared towards addressing given concepts and issues in society that may be deemed as important by the artists. In this regard, censorship of such artistry borders on the limitation of freedom of expression which is a universal right for everyone and is not a privilege offered by any government after meeting set conditions or criteria. In addition, censorship by the government on public art may not be justified given the increasingly globalized world we live in. whereas certain art may be deemed offensive in a given part of the world, it may have significance in another. This means that censorship would be akin to disregarding the cultural differences that are inherent in the world and that are expressed through the different public arts.
10. Why is it so difficult to describe “contemporary American Art?” The discussion is about artworks made after 1990. Discuss the impact of social media, the internet, and American culture on questions of:
a. What is art, and who decides?
Contemporary art in America is characterized by features of globalization that has been aided by the mass media and internet. This has seen awareness of art increase across different areas given that anyone with access to the internet is able to follow developments in art in different areas. Art continues to be seen as the different videos, music, paintings, monuments, graffiti and murals across the country (Meyer, 2013). In addition, there has been development of public art that sees online projects, street parades and pop-up art shops in different areas of the country. With regards to who determines what art is, it has primarily remained those who are concerned with art itself. It is not everyone on the internet that is concerned with artwork and only those regarding the substance of a given work of art can be regarded as the deciders of what may be regarded as art.
b. What are the functions of Art in America?
Art has social functions in America being able to address societal issues such as politics and even patriotism in the country (Meyer, 2013). Music has been used to rally people around different social issues such as gender violence and police brutality in the country. Satirical works of art have been used to criticize different actions of leaders in the country and lead to addressing of political concerns of the people. Works of art also function as elevators of a community’s status for example when such artwork is treasured in the community. The expression and gratification functions of art are also to be found in America.
c. Who decides what is good or bad Art in America?
The decision on whether a given artwork is good or bad is normally quite subjective to each and every individual. In this regard, in America, it is normally the individual creating or consuming a given art who decides whether it is good or bad. This is in terms of issues of beauty for instance that are normally different from individual to the next depending on their culture, experiences and upbringing (Meyer, 2013). It would be hard to claim that something is universally accepted as good or bad. This means that the evaluations of different people with regards to good or bad art are normally with regards to their perceptions of the world. The internet is able to widen such perceptions given the exchange of information and knowledge.
d. How does one determine the value of Art in America?
The value of an art is dependent on several factors in America. One consideration is normally the stature of the artist with established artists’ work being placed at higher value than others. Also, in most cases, it has been viewed that the larger a given artwork, the higher its price in the market although this is not applicable to domestic or office building installations. When at art changes hands from the owner to a given buyer and then the next, it is viewed that the value of such a work is diminished I the long run when compared to newer ones (Meyer, 2013). The issue of supply and demand also comes in with rare works of art being valued more than those that are readily available in America.
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Kelly, Catriona, and Stephen Lovell. Russian Literature, Modernism and the Visual Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.
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