If Mesopotamian, Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art were looked together you would be able to identify the change from each other. The form of art depicted ranges from the worshiping of Gods to showing the potential of human beings. Each of these civilizations influences each other which shows change and adaptation in both society and art. First of all, in Mesopotamia one art showing worshiping is the Statue of Gudea in 2150 BCE in Neo Sumeria. The small stone figure is made to be durable and last a while. It can also be seen as a someone with a high status worshiping their religion or praying to a God due to their composure being seated and his hands together with a humble look.
Moving on to Ancient Egypt is another example of worshiping. However, the pharaohs were looked upon as rulers are praised highly. Their social status was at the peak and were known to have a form of communication to the gods. They were the chain which connected the people to the many gods. The statue shown below is Menkaure and Queen 2491-2472 BCE which are the pharaoh and queen standing next to each other. It looks like it has been made through a similar material as the previous art, the Gudea. Their posture shows the superiority and power of the two. They are posed in an ideal posture. Their feet are close to each other while standing up vertically. Their are similarities to Mesopotamia and Egyptian art as seen between these two statues. The stiffness in their poses to the chunky like construction give it’s durability and strength. Also, they are posing as if they were prepared to be frozen in this moment.
One Greek statue that displays a young male is Kuros. The figure is nude, which represents its appreciation of the body in Greek art. The statue shows the physique of a young adult while displaying the softness of a human body at the same time. Kuros is standing straight, facing forward with two feet almost together, meaning the equal distribution of weight of the entire body. The curves in the facial features such as eyebrows and eyelid down to the knee caps resonate to a natural human body.
Humanism is a cultural and intellectual movement of the Renaissance that emphasized human potential to attain excellence and promoted direct study of the literature, art, and civilization of classical Greece and Rome.
Greek humanism is the beauty of the human form and essence. It puts the human experience at the center of events. In this statue of the Doryphoros is shows an adult male body with a muscular somewhat bulky body with a blocked shaped torso. The positioning of his feet are in a stance where one leg takes all the weight of the body and the other is merely a support. In this position he is standing in a relaxed state in which he can look around him easily without breaking form. On the other hand Kouros is a teenager or young adult standing in a symmetrical pose. He has a defined body which seems more realistic than Doryphoros and a calm posture.
In Roman humanism statues were more symbolic and focused on singular characteristics likes the face or body. In the Marble bust of a man sculpture it shows an elder aged man with a serious look on his face. Usually in Roman sculptures they depict signs of aging and reflecting on the character of the individual where as in Greek sculpture it shows the youth and strength.
From the Brooklyn Museum I chose Bird Lady figurine from the Predynastic Period 3500-3400 BC. This pottery was made during the Badarian period (4400-3800 BC) and was named after the village of Badari where it was first found. My first impressions were the subtle details that stood out. First, the shape of the body and arms are curvy which gives off the portrait of a feminine body. Her hands are in the air giving a peaceful vibe as if she was dancing or celebrating in joy. In deeper look, her face and arms resemble the beak and wings of a bird along with her legs which aren’t there as it was a tail. There can also be another meaning since she is so bird like it can resemble freedom or flying. Back in Ancient Egypt women didn’t have many rights. This figurine can represent what women wanted to achieve or feel like because their was a hierarchy where women had to listen to obey men.
The Bird Lady has body parts of both a woman and bird. Another aspect I saw was the two toned color. The top part of the woman has a copper like color which could be made up of clay where the bottom has a sandstone color which makes it look like a rock. The bottom half of the figurine can also resemble a dress or skirt. What shocked me the most was the nudity shown on the upper body because I wouldn’t expect ancient Egypt to include it in art.
When I browsed around the Soul Of The Nation exhibit, I stumbled upon this painting that caught my attention. This artwork, Did The Bear Sit Under a Tree, by Benny Andrews spoke to me with such intensity. The first thing I noticed was the sloppiness in the execution. I saw that there were multiple colors on the flag and man. For example, the stripes are red and orange and the stars have a light and dark blue background. Also, the entirety of the flag is filled with flaws such as imperfect sizes of the stars followed up with cracks in the stripes. The flag also seems to be rolled up away from the man as if he is fighting for something against what the flag represents.
The colored man’s facial expression shows confusion or an undecided look along with anger. His hand gesture clearly shows he is ready to fight or resist against the flag. Meanwhile, his face expresses uncertainty and indecisiveness whether or not to carry out the action. Regardless, the flag is rolled up covering about a third of the portrait as the man is pushing it away from him. The caption for the painting is a representation of a colored man during the civil rights movement with a shaking fist at the flag which was supposed to protect him. The painter portrays a sense of betrayal and anger in the man because of his unhappiness of how the United States treats colored people.
Throughout unit 1 we discussed the ideas of formal analysis and critical pedagogy. These concepts were good stepping stones in understanding the meaning of an artwork. This allowed us to comprehend the artist’s meaning and purpose for their work and what they were trying to say. I remember during the first two weeks I could only see what was literally in front of me. For example, when we analyzed the painting of the women, I only noticed what was there. I didn’t see the details and precision put into certain parts of the artwork.
One concept we learned was formal analysis. It is an explanation of structure in ways which visual elements function with a piece of work. The purest form of formal analysis is defined to what the viewer sees because that’s how the eye looks at art. Visually speaking there are numerous of ideas and images we see off a piece of art. We use different components such as line, shape and form, space, color, and texture to evaluate what the art means. These components break down the significance of what the artist is truly trying to depict. Also, there are different characteristics and concepts in the components that can describe what is happening. The color, line, scale, space and mass all effect how interpret a piece. According to Anne D’Alleva, “Formal analysis means looking at the work of art to try to understand what the artist wants to convey visually.”D’Alleva is telling us to consider the reason for the creation of the piece and not to focus on what we only see through vision. Using the other concepts can give us a grasp of the true meaning of an piece of work.
Another concept we talked about was critical pedagogy which can be found in Paulo Freire’s well known “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” This text talks about the “banking model of education” where it treats students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge. Freire argues that the traditional education system lacks critical thinking and a loss of creativity. How Freire describes this education is educators and teachers deposit information and knowledge into students, or in other words filling up your piggy bank with coins. This method taught students how to memorize information rather than understand what they are being taught. Instead of teaching students the what if, why, and how’s, they simply state facts and expect students to retain that information.
Formal analysis is an explanation of structure in ways which visual elements function with a piece of work. The purest form of formal analysis is defined to what the viewer sees because that’s how the eye looks at art. Visually speaking there are numerous of ideas and images we see off a piece of art. We use different components such as line, shape and form, space, color, and texture to evaluate what the art means. These components break down the significance of what the artist is truly trying to depict. Also, there are different characteristics and concepts in the components that can describe what is happening. Formal analysis can help us understand a piece of art better by asking us questions and thinking about things we usually wouldn’t.
What is art? Art is complicated and has endless meanings. For example, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. It is a questionable piece of work which is interpreted differently by everyone. There’s an old saying “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” To the average person this painting is seen as old piece of artwork that became famous overtime because of the image portrayed during the time period. Five centuries ago it was not common to showcase emotions through a painting and a smile was no exception. To me I see a new style of art, one that expresses creativity and possibilities. Art is subjective to the viewer. In art there is no wrong or right. As a famous man, Bob Ross, once said “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” These words of wisdom encourage people to not think of mistakes as a bad thing, but as a natural part of the work. Art is about the journey to create a greater picture that is meaningful with emotion and personality.