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Throughout the exestance of man, we have been fascinated with trying to allow others to see what we see. In other words, art is an attempt to try and re-create what we see with our eyes, as well as our mind. What we see is distorted by everything we see and how our mind perceives it. Therefore, I believe it influences us as individuals to see our own deeper meaning or influence in every piece that we see. Not only do we view pieces of art for the visual stimulation they provide, but also for the meaning that is expressed. This is always influenced by society itself. A mixture of the cultural ideal of beauty, historical events (war, piece, Christianity, etc..), previous pieces of artwork, and whatever the artists’ mood is at the time also influence most art. Having said this, I disagree with the premise that art has had periodic cycles of prosperity and decline. It is true however that some works of art are more impressive than others but as a whole, I see art in a state of continuous improvement. It is somewhat unfair for us in the 20th century to say with certainty that the quality and beauty of art is better in some periods than others. The techniques used to create art have steadily become better, as the oldest techniques have been perfected and re-perfected to influence new and better techniques. Also with the invention of new tools and technology, art has become much easier to produce. The great thing about art is that not everyone has to like it, nor are they supposed too. Simply because a piece doesn’t appeal to you, doesn’t mean that it won’t appeal to someone else. Take for instance the Anavyssos Kouros from Archaic Greece. This magnificent statue reflects the cultural ideal of beauty of the time period. The cultural ideal of beauty is the adolescent male, which is fully reflected in this sculpture. In Anavyssos Kouros, we see a nude adolescent Greek male. This sculpture is complete with hills and valleys (not merely engraved lines as used previously) to show bone and muscle thruought the chest, abdomen, shoulders, biceps, thighs, knees and ankles. On the face we notice the eyes jut out as if in a trance and hardly any definition around the eyelids. His stylized hair is cut into geometric patterns and it hangs starched down the back of his neck. The proportions of the piece appear correct, however the adolescent’s body has the overall figure of a woman. Wide, fleshy hips and thighs combined with a thin waist give the piece an hourglass shape. Considering that homosexual acts between men and adolescent boys were considered normal at the time, the cultural ideal of beauty for Archaic Greece is the adolescent male as a sex object. In today’s day and age, this would not be considered politically correct. However, in Archaic Greece the adolescent male was considered to be the most beutiful creature on the planet. Next, let us examine Myrons’ Diskobolos from the Severe style of Greek art. During the Severe style, the Ideal of beauty was the Greek male as a strong, powerful athlete. On the surface, is a compositional masterpiece. This is one of the first times that the human body has succesfully been sculpted in the act of motion. The arms of the figure form a half circle that meets another opposing half circle formed by the curve of the body. The proportions of the body are also excellent, and the bone and muscles actually appear to be ready to exhert a tremendous force. The head of Diskobolos is done in the Classic Greek style ; a long nose, stylized hair and lips no wider than the nostrils. Very smooth skin with no blemishes or wrinkles is also reflects the classical style. The stylized face actually detracts from the piece because it is not consistent with athletic activity. No strain appears on the face, only a blank stare. With the advent of the Olympic Games in Greece, the Greek society looked upon the athletic male as the ideal beauty. Therefore many of the works of art in the Severe style reflect the beauty of the nude athletic male. The rise of the Roman civilization brought with it a new style of realism. Hyperrealism sought to produce exact portraits of the subject usually for historical reference. Idealized features were somewhat discontinued for the new style. So if the subject was missing teeth, no stylized teeth were added to the portrait. Or if the subject had a wart on his nose, then his portrait would have the exact same thing. Such shocking representations of individuals is a stark contrast from the ideal of beauty that the Greeks had. If Polykletus were alive during the Roman Empire, he would be stunned by this new ideal of beauty called the Roman Historical Style. However, I feel as though some fabulous pieces came out of the Roman historical style. Take for instance Patrician Carrying Two Portrait Heads. In this stature we see a middle aged man complete with wrinkles on his face and balding head. He stands proudly, carrying a portrait of his forefathers in each hand. His toga hangs loosely off his sagging body in a realistic fashion. This piece is the epitome of hyperrealism, which was considered beautiful at the time. This new ideal of beauty is totally different from the idealized adolescent male which was worshipped in Greece only centuries before. The Greek stylized athletic ideal of beauty didn’t die. We can clearly see it in Commodus as Hercules from the middle of the Roman Empire. In this piece we see Commodus as a fit young man. Excellent interior definition thruought the piece gives it realistic muscle tone. Due to the careful attention to hills and valleys, we can see muscle rippling thruought the bicep, chest, rib, stomach and shoulder area. His face consists of the classic Greek nose (long and narrow) and lips (no wider than the nostrils). The eyesockets are set deep in the head, but bulge out as if hypnotized. The lion head-dress is perfectly done with all of its folds creating a sense of great mass. The lions paws, which are tied into a knot hang beautifully down the center of Commodus’s chest. His stylized hair reminds us of the Greeks ideal hair, curly and cut to the shape of the top of the head. With the rise of Christianity in Europe, art and the cultural ideal of beauty changed drastically. No longer was the earthly body as important as the heavenly soul. So artists began to create works of art that professed their faith to Jesus Christ. Naturalism began to be sacrificed for a deeper, spiritual meaning. Take for example the mosaic of Emporer Justinian and Attendants from the Justinian time period. In this piece, we see the Emporer Justinian crowded by priests, servants, and soldiers. Justinian stands tall in the center of the piece in hsi cloak and crown, all of which is surrounded by a gold background and patterned frame. The divinity radiates from the top of Justinians head to form a golden halo (a symbol of divinity). Everyone in the piece has strange elongated bodies and small feet which seem to dangle from the bottom of everyones robes. This gives a floating effect to the whole composition. As unrealistic as it looks, this mosaic portrays a very realistic and divine message about the Emporer Justinians’ position in society. The ideal that the earthly body is insignificant gave way to a lack of naturalism from the early Christian period all the way to the Gothic period. In Gothic art, we see the re-emergance of

naturalism due to the emergance of Scholasticism. Scholasticism revealed that there is logic behind the universe, the earth is good, therefore man is good. One of the finest examples of this is the Jamb statues at the Cathedral of Chatres. These statues look almost lifelike, perched atop the cathedral. The splendid folds in the hanging drapery ad a sense of weight to ther garments. The overall proportions of the pieces appear correct down to the last detail. The skin appears taught over their faces, their eyes all focusing on something in the distance. The most breathtaking artifacts to come from the Gothic era are the stained glall windows that adorn giant cathedrals. With the invention of the flying butress to support most of the weight, huge stained glass masterpieces could be made right into the wall. This not only allowed more divine light to come inside, but also made the church stand out from any other building of the time. The best example of this is the stained glass that surrounds the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. The interior seems to radiate all over due to the enormous amount of stained glass placed in geometric patterns. The dazzling corinthean columns come all the way to the top where they criss-cross at pointed arches. Called a groin, the criss-crosses at the top combined with columns supports the whole structure. The newfound ability to control light using stained glass paved the way for a new ideal of beauty. This required that the artist himself creates a utopia, which we can see in the emergence of the Renaissance. The use of mathematics and geometry in painting helped to create some of the best compositions to date. One of the best paintings is Perugino’s Giving of the Key to St. Peter. The use of a grid pattern as the ground, combined with one point perspective give the painting a distinct foreground and background as well as tremendous depth. You could cut down the center of the piece with a knife and have almost the exact thing on each side (compositionally). Buildings on both sides as well as the center of the background help to create geometry. Also the trees in the background are almost mirrored on both sides. The scale and proportions of the people are done with perfection. The interior definition of the people is suggested by the use of light and shadow on the figures. This helps to give the figures a 3D appearance. The drapery is also wonderfully done as we can see distince variations in shade and color to reveal different fabrics. I finish my discussion with Michelangelo’s Pieta, another compositional masterpiece. Having been allowed to perform dissections of human corpses at the Hospital of Santo Spirito, Michelangelo gained tremendous knowledge of how the body is put together. This is evident in Pieta, in which Jesus appears to be an actual figure. Mary however, is somewhat stylized because she is suppossed to be eternally youthful. Christ is slouched down in Mary’s lap. His limbs hang like they are totally lifeless down to her legs as she looks upon him, mourning. Thruought Christ’s slender body, we can see interior definition that is realistic with the pose. Especially where Mary cradles Christ under the armpit which juts out like a mound of real flesh. Mary’s drapery flows naturally around her body, as does Christ’s small wrap. The overall composition creates an equilateral triangle. Mary’s head is at the top of the triangle and her right foot and Christ’s feet make the two other points respectively. This piece convey’s the message of suffering and grief and is a tribute to the divinity of Christ. Art is much like fashion. There are certain fads that are involved, some of which we look back at and regret (disco, mod, etc..). However the fads are very unique and are always based on the cultural ideal of beauty for that particular time. Even fads that were totally out have come back again to be bolder and better than ever. Just to reiterate, each fad infuences others and old fads never die. NO2ABSTRACT The term Renaissance describes the period of European history from the 14th to the 16th century. It is derived from the French word for rebirth and originally referred to the revival of values and artistic styles of classical antiguity during that period. The idea of Renai- ssance is a distinct historical period heralding the modern age, characterized by the rise of the individual, scientific inquiry, and geographical exploration as well as secular values. Many scholars would agree that there is a distinctive Renaissance style in music, literature, and especially the arts. The emergence of the artist as a creator was a result and major cause of the development of Renaissance art. Art became widely valued as a mode of personal ex- pression. The evolution of Italian Renaissance art was a continuous process, but was divided into three major partsEarly, High, and Late Renaissance. Early Renaissance artists sought to create art forms consistent with the appearance of the natural world and with their experience of human personality and behavior. The task of accurate representation was addressed in the spirit of intense and methodical inquiry. Rational inquiry was to be the key to success; therefore, the efforts were made to discover the correct laws of proportion for the representation of the human body. The term Early Renaissance characterizes virtually all the art of the 15th century. Florence, Italy was the cradle of Renaissance artistic thought and remained one of the undisputed centers of innovation. About 1450 a new generation of artists that included Pollaiuolo and Sandro Botticelli came to be known in Florence. The Early Renaissance was a necessary preparation for the perfection of High Renaissance art. However, Early Renaissance Painting seems to fall short of thoroughly convincing figural representation, and its expression of human emotion is stylized rather than real. The art of the High Renaissance, had a universal characteristic. This was unity and balance achieved by the artist’s intuition. This period of great art and artists only lasted a short period of time, and was created by a few artists of genius such as Leonardo DaVinci, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Bramante. DaVinci was considered the paragon of the Renaissance thinkers, and was most popular for his work of art, Mona Lisa. Michelangelo has come to typify the artist endowed with inexplicable, solitary genius. He is especially famous for creating the scenes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The decline of art happened during the Late Renaissance, when Rome was sacked in 1527. This temporarily ended the city’s role as a source of patronage and compelled artists to travel to other centers in Italy, France and Spain. Although the fundamental characteristics of Late Renaissance style was shared by many artists, this period dominated by Mannerism, was marked by artistic individuality. This is a quality demonstrated to its fullest extent by the late works of Michaelangelo. The display of individual virtuosity became an important criterion of artistic achievement, and rivalry often provoked competition based on brilliance of individual performance. The self-consciousness of Mannerist artists, and their efforts to match or surpass the great masters who had immediately preceded them, were the symptoms of a somewhat overripe development, far removed from the fresh dawn of discovery that first gave meaning to the concept of the renaissance.


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