During my visit to the Brooklyn Museum, I decided to really take my time viewing the different sculptures in the exhibition of the Ancient World only because I knew these artifacts and sculptures all go way back in time and they all truly have a significance to it even if we aren’t sure what it may be, we all have different perspectives in each piece of art which makes it a lot more interesting to some. What caught my eye the most was the Statue of Nykara and His Family, before reading the information below it I thought the statue was of a young king with two women besides him as if they were his protectors in some way. I also notice that he had a closed tight fist and the person on his left side had his finger on his mouth as if he was saying “silence”, while the person on his right seem to have their arm wrapped under his or behind since it wasn’t visible. After reading the information I learned that the statue depicted Nykara seated between the two figures whom were his wife and son. Each statue was head to head, on the same height but if Nykara was to stand he would probably be double their size but that the mother and son were the same height. I could also tell how the sculptor’s added much detail to the hair or wig on each one of them, the wife’s hair had both horizontal and vertical line, Nykara’s hair or wig was made of somewhat curves or curls and the young son’s hair was long and fallen over his shoulder in what seemed to be a braid. Each sculpture was also looking straight forward, which seemed as if they were all directing their attention to the same place. I could also tell that the wife kind of had somewhat of a smirk in her smile, and she was also wearing a dress whereas the son didn’t have any on and he also had his hand on his father’s shoulder depicting the respect and love he had towards him. Overall I think this sculpture was showing the strength, love and respect they each had for each other as a family and how each of them were equally important to each other.
The Brooklyn museum’s ancient Egypt exhibit was truly a spectacle. The exhibit displayed many ancient artworks, but the one that caught my interest was the statue of Queen Ankhnes-meryre ll and her son, Pepy ll. The first thing I noticed about it was the material that was used. It was carved out of a glassy stone that had a beige/ivory color. Its condition has remarkably been preserved after thousands of years. This is significant because it means that the queen and her son were very important figures because of the quality of material that was used to sculpt them.
The second thing I observed was the queen sitting on what appears to be a step, cradling her son. The child can be identified as male because of his head dress. His size compared to his mother can determine that he is still young. Another thing I noted about the sculpture is that both the queen and her son’s feet are rested on a platform. This might represent their status and god-like figure.
Lastly, I noticed that the queen and her son are not facing the same direction. The queen is the face you would notice first. This could represent the importance of her role in raising her heir and the future of Egypt. It could also represent the role of women in general during this time in Egypt. Women were responsible for raising the children of the future. In some aspects, they were the most important member in the family.
In the Soul Of The Nation exhibit, There were many pieces that represented the different kinds of discrimination amongst people of color. One piece that I found interesting was “Did The Bear Sit Under a Tree”, by Benny Andrews. The first thing I noticed was the medium used to create this piece. A combination of fabrics were used in the flag, shirt, and canvas. Paint was layered on thick, as if the painter was angry and slapping paint onto the canvas. Lines were not straight, and the stars on the flag were not uniform in size either. I believe the artist’s intention was to send a message rather than creating an art piece for its aesthetic. I also noticed the various splatters and drips distributed on the flag and the black man standing behind it. The American flag is rolled up, revealing an angry black man. He is holding his fists up at the flag. I think that the message of this painting was to show the hypocrisy of the American flag. The flag symbolizes freedom and equality, but hiding behind it is the tyranny of American history. The man is depicted with a zipper for a mouth. African Americans were not able to exercise the same freedoms as other citizens. The zipper symbolized the censorship of their voices. This piece along with the other artworks in the Soul of The Nation exhibit, show us the systematic oppression of African American in American history. It allows us to understand the pain and frustration of these people even if you weren’t there at that time.
Part One: Ancient World
The piece of art I chose was the “Painted Coffin Interior”. It was the inside bottom of the coffin where an Egyptian King would be buried on top of, after being mummified. What originally drew me to observe the piece were the colors used. It was the only art in the room that had any color, and I love colors.
I believe the painting done was specific towards the King that was buried there. It tell the story of his life and the things he accomplished. The biggest figure in the center of the painting is the King of the dead, Osiris, due to hieratic scale, it makes sense that he is four time the size of the other figures, since the who;e point of the painting is for death. The mummy would be laid on top of it, so the deceased could be associated with the King, who was reborn in the afterlife.
The birds with heads are called ba-soul. They are the part of the soul that can travel between living world and the death world. It was believed that only kings had these souls, so the ba-souls on the top registers were previous kings.
There are two figures holding Osiris up, Anubis and Horus. Anubis (on the left), is a God who watches over the dead. He was the God that embalmed Osiris after he died. Horus (on the right) was the symbol of kingship over Egypt.
The circles on the top of the painting, I believe, are there to show the circle of life. Even though the King’s human life is over his soul continues on in the after life, so there are more than one circle; the soul goes on.
The Brooklyn Museum has many collections that one can view. These collections consist of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Syria, Then and Now: Stories from Refugees a Century Apart, One: Do Ho Suh, Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection, Something to Say: Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine, Deborah Kass, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, and Hank Willis Thomas, Cecilia Vicuña: Disappeared Quipu,Rob Wynne: FLOAT, Infinite Blue, The Brooklyn Della Robbia, Arts of Korea, American Art, A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt, European Art,Ancient Egyptian Art, Assyrian Art, The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, Decorative Arts and Period Rooms, Visible Storage ▪ Study Center, Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas, Williamsburg Murals: A Rediscovery and Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden. The collection that piqued my interest the most is Arts of Korea.
The Pair of Boy Attendants, Korea Joseon Dynasty is an art piece that stood out to me. This art piece The Pair of Boy Attendants, Korea Joseon Dynasty has soft lines, bright colors, and is a three dimensional statue. The Pair of Boy Attendants, Korea Joseon Dynasty are usually called dongjas. These dongjas would be placed at buddist sculpture dieties to show that the donjgas are bringing gifts. While one of the boys is carrying a turtle the other boy is assumed to be carrying a tray of food. The colors primarily used in the sculptures are very light although if you look at the head and the feet they are a dark color. This contrasts with the white skin. The clothing on the statue is very detailed. When you look on the sleeve you can see the creases of the top, which makes it seem like that the shirt was a little too long or baggy. On the statue it’s very hard to see the turtle. It seems to blend in with the boys top. While the other boys tray does not blend in with his top that significantly it is the same color as the boys top. Both of the boys have very straight lines on their hands where you can see their fingers. The two boys have very faint curved eyebrow lines and ruby red lips which contrasts against their pale skin.
In the collection Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power the art piece that captured my attention the most is “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima.” The reason that this art piece captured my attention is that when you closely look in the back there is Aunt Jemima who is the cover on nowadays pancake syrup. The painting consists of warm earthy tones in which each element of color varies and contrasts with each other. The woman with the very dark hues is shown bigger than everyone else. In contrast to the big size the woman around her apron has a post card which shows a black lady holding a white baby. These colors contrast each other which makes the baby stand out. Jemima on one hand is holding a broom and on the other she’s holding a rifle. There are no soft lines in this painting rather it seems like the piece is just blobbed there. The floor is white which brings out the earthy tones in the painting. The larger Aunt Jemima has round eyes that are bulging out of her head while the red lip goes with the red dress.
Upon walking into the Brooklyn Museum, which by the way was free with my BC Id, I was overwhelmed with the amount of artwork on display. Having never visited the Brooklyn Museum I was pleasantly surprised to find such interesting exhibits. I especially enjoyed those of the Egyptian galleries and Soul of a Nation. Using what I have learned, I had a whole new perspective on viewing art.
One specific piece of art really stuck out to me when visiting the Museum. A statue of a woman whose asking was red skin and what seemed like male facial features. Before reading the brief description of the artwork I began to use formal analysis to determine the different elements of the piece. The statue had a coffin like shape and was covered in hieroglyphics. I assumed that the coffin like statue was telling the story of some kind of after life of whomever the woman was. Using previous knowledge of the Egyptians great interest in the afterlife, I came to the conclusion that the writing has to do with the woman’s journey. After creating my own ideas of the artwork I of course read the description of the piece. The statue indeed was a coffin of a woman and the writing was the story of how a priest transformed the woman into a male so that she could have the ability to the idea of rebirth. Ancient Egyptians believed that a male was necessary for the process of birth and rebirth. Formal analysis help me understand the complexities of the piece and how to full appreciate its value much better than I did before.
My most enjoyable experience at the Brooklyn Museum was the Soul of a Nation exhibit. As much as I enjoyed the ancient world art the Soul exhibit was more of my style. As I entered the room I was pleased to see the many beautiful and moving images inside. The artwork that caught my attention immediately was that of Carolyn Lawrence Black Children Keep Your Spirits Free. The reason I chose this piece was for its vibrant vivid colors and detailed lines of the people within the picture. The different elements used to describe its meaning, it was truly and eye catcher. The representation of the children laughing,playing and playing music was so peaceful and innocent. Using from what is going on in today’s world I see how the artist is trying to make the point that no matter what color the children are just children. They are peaceful and bring peace to those who protect and observe. I am in awe of the beauty that this artwork brings in besides the actual colors. It was really one of my favorites.
My experience at the Brooklyn Museum was one of many surprises. Before coming I had no expectations and had no idea that I was going to enjoy it so much. The pieces I observed showed me the more meaningful side of art. How using simply paint and clay could impact and tell such detailed stories using zero words. Using what we learned has deeply changed how I now view and understand art. It has given me a new perspective on art and I am forever grateful it did.
For this assignment, I was very excited to visit the Brooklyn Museum because I live right in Crown Heights and have yet to be able to visit. The museum had a beautiful layout and so many pieces that caused me to be in awe the entire time. Once I finally reached the Ancient World section on the third floor, I found myself remembering and thinking about all of the things we have learned about in class regarding Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, and beginning to analyze all of the wonderful works that were displayed. Upon my way out towards the stairs, I stumbled upon the Assyrian Palace Reliefs that all had amazing and intricate details that I became more appreciative of when I saw them in person. I thought the placement of the reliefs near the entrance/exit stairs was very telling as to what they are and their purpose because when you reach the beginning of the exhibit, it explains that these reliefs would be seen at the entrances of Assyrian palaces to “overwhelm” visitors. I remember discussing this in class when we learned of the many figures that would be used to showcase power and attempt to frighten visitors. The relief I found myself in complete awe of was the Relief with Two Registers that came from the Neo-Assyrian Period under the rule of Ashur-nasir-pal II. In doing formal analysis, the first thing I became aware of was the complete symmetry of the two registers. Although they are different characters, they are complete mirror images of one another, even down to the piece that the figures are holding/touching which I later found out was the sacred tree. Also, in doing formal analysis one can take note of the depth of the lines that were used, in some places of the register, both top and bottom, there are certain parts that have deeper lines and others that have more shallow lines. The shallow lines seemed to be used for parts that were not the main focus of the relief, such as clothes; and the deeper lines were used to enhance/showcase detail such as the scared tree of or the wings of the mythical creature and the genie. I also noted that unlike some of the registers we viewed in class, there did not seem to be a hierarchy and instead they were equal to show their equal importance and meaning.
In walking to the third floor (after getting in for free with your Brooklyn college ID) of the Brooklyn museum, you are overwhelmed with the plethora of artwork you can explore in their Ancient World exhibit. I found myself reflecting back on our classes, trying to draw from what we’ve addressed and depicted. From the powerpoint slides of the small statues, the large statues and the wall paintings that we’ve examined and analyzed thus far, the Ancient World exhibit was a showcase for what felt like millions of these art forms. While I was in awe of larger works and works that seemed to be of imminent importance, I found myself drawn to the smaller statues that were showcased throughout all of the exhibit. I remember learning in class that while these statues are on the smaller size, they still retain an importance. In being so small they were most likely portable objects that people deemed not only vital but beneficial to carry around with them. The statue that I really adored was from ancient Mesopotamia titled Female Figure.
Before I read the description below the figure, I could already draw from previous knowledge that she was made of clay and most likely meant to inspire fertility, or accentuate and embody womanhood in general. In using formal analysis, my eyes are drawn first and foremost to her breasts. She is cupping them with her hands and they are uneven and voluptuous. While the largeness of them could simply just be a depiction of womanhood in general (which heavily places an emphasis on a large chest), large breasts are also a signifier of pregnancy, holding the milk they’ll feed to the life they bring into this world. Her hips and thighs are also large, further emphasis of this being a grown woman who has come into herself, possessing a matured body that will support childbirth. It’s hard to tell whether or not she has no head at all, or her head is just very small and not detailed. In pinpointing the details that are lacking, she also has no lower legs or feet. Perhaps they were once present and haven’t been sustained, or perhaps it only speaks further to what body parts of the female anatomy are most important and will work to inspire fertility. Of course, in reading the description below we learn that while the statue can range from real to ideal to divine women, the main purpose of the statue in general was to indeed inspire fertility.
The entire Egyptian exhibition was really beautiful, it consisted of a lot of sculptures and models of Egyptian life and objects. The artwork that captured my eye immediately in the midst of all the others was, the Statue of Queen Ankhnes-meryre II and Her Son, Pepy II (author Unknown). The Sculpture is of a Queen (Ankhnes) holding her son, Pepy II. Immediately the size of both is noticeable as Queen Ankhnes is at least three times the size of Pepy II. Pepy II is on Ankhnes’ lap and facing East, as Ankhnes is facing North. The size could be a symbol of how powerful the mother-role was as she would serve as not only the domestic role but also as a protector of the future generations of Kings/Queens. Her role as a protector can be observed as Pepy II “clasps” her hand, clasping being a sign of reassurance and presence of one and their protection. Pepy II’s feet also are on a block almost half the size of his mother, this could further represent his King stature and how he will always be on some sort of pedestal in relation to the other Egyptians. The direction in which they’re facing can symbolize how they own have their own focuses or visions- the Queen ensuring that she’s fulfilling her role as a mother to nurse her child and still “act as regent” and Pepy II, facing his own direction can symbolize his priorities or focus of being “king as a small child”. The fact that he was king so young can also be another reason as for why he is so small in comparison to his mother, since he is not yet very powerful. It is made out of Egyptian alabaster which has a yellowish-brown town. Alabaster is very easy for drawing and carving. The neutrality in color could show that maybe there was no large gap in importance nor dominance between the two at that specific time- in Egypt Red usually symbolized Males and their dominance, and Yellow was normally used for Women. Or the lack of color can simply show us that there may have been a lack of color resources for art when this was made.
In Soul of a Nation there were very colorful paintings, some very colorful some abstract, some very simplistic, but all with a very powerful message. The artwork that seized my attention was the mahogany sculpture, “Black Unity” by Elizabeth Catlett. The sculpture is very large and is simply a sculpted closed fist, which has been established for unity- especially Black unity. The size of the sculpture is very big, which could represent a unity in activism for Black rights as many have come together to stand up for and reclaim their rights, especially in the last 50 or so, years. The use of making the fist Mahogany, a very deep brown, can be a literal representation of a Black hand. The sculpture is placed on top of a white square base, which could be used for contrast- to make the fist stand out greatly amongst everything else, almost as negative space- or simply for positioning, to re-imagine a world where Blacks are no longer subjected nor inferior to whites. The significance of this fist can extend largely, as it can be intended for an audience of whites as well, and make them feel powerless or serve as a reminder to make them remotely aware of racial injustices that have occured. When I was at the exhibit, I witnessed a lot of people, but a majority were white or tourists. Making this sculpture so big and noticeable, even the placement of it being in the middle of the floor with all the other artwork surrounding it can be a stamp or symbol for Black power and make everyone, especially the white people aware, as it is something you can’t miss nor ignore.
The Ancient Egyptian Art exhibit was very fascinating. Upon entering, I saw a large coffin where wealthy ancient Egyptians would be mummified, and buried in with their personal belongings. There was also a large room that resembled a tomb because of how dark it was, as well as all the coffins, wall paintings, and artifacts that were inside. It was mesmerizing but in a way, frightening at the same time.
The artifact that intrigued me the most was the Cartonnage of Nespanetjerenpare. This is a large coffin made of cartonnage, pigment, glass, and lapis lazuli. It was made for priest Nespanetjerenpare in Thebes, Egypt, during the Third Intermediate Period circa 945-718 BCE. This interested me the most because it was the largest thing in the room, almost six feet to be exact. Applying formal analysis, the coffin had symmetry, and vivid colors throughout. Painted throughout the coffin were two people, and hybrids of people and animals on both sides. The back also had two large people that seemed to he holding up something in the middle. The coffin itself also symbolized the power and wealth that the priest had. In Ancient Egypt, only the wealthy could afford to be mummified and buried in a coffin with their personal belongings that they’d want to use in the afterlife. It’s very fascinating to know the culture and beliefs Ancient Egyptians had thousands of years ago. It also begins to make sense why people have tried to steal these coffins and the belongings inside throughout the centuries.
The Ancient World exhibit was very eye catching and very interesting. The one piece of artwork that I found so pretty and brilliant was Fred Wilson’s “Grey Area (Brown Version).“This artwork was made of paint, plaster, and wood. It consists of five medium portrait heads of Nerfertiti. All of these heads goes from light to dark shades of brown. Theres not much to say to these portraits but describe how beautiful they are. Nerferitit‘s face is very smooth and all her features are just as smooth and round. The head peace she has on in all five portraits is the only thing that has some sort of grainy texture. The eye immediately goes left to right, and the shades are very admirable. It stands out in the hall that it is in. They’re many elements that add to the artwork. The shadows that that these portraits cast is something that I am not sure was meant to be on purpose but it adds an extra dimension to the already three dimensional artwork. It makes it look more statuesque. The fact that it was put positioned higher than the rest of the artwork also is very admirable.
When I first saw this artwork I already knew what the message it was trying to send. On social media in particular, I remember there was a huge debate of Nerfertiti‘s skin color. People were saying she was of a very dark skin complexion and some were saying she was very light. Wilson deepens that ambiguity of her complexion by creating these portraits.
In making these portraits, Wilson has said “I use beauty as a way of helping people receive difficult or upsetting ideas. The topical issues are merely a vehicle for making one aware of one’s own perceptual shift – which is the real thrill.” What he said captured what this artwork was trying to say. No matterwhat shadeshe was, she was beautiful either way.
For the first part of the Assignment, I decided to enter the Ancient Korean Exhibit. I fell in love with these art pieces. This was my 3rd time into the museum. Everytime I go to the museum I check on this section because everything seems so expensive. From what I noticed about each art piece, one thing that all stood out about all of them were there sizes. They were all small and in my mind this means something of a decoration or tool. A figure such as the mini Buddha was considered to be both a religious piece. you can tell it was a religious piece by the position it was in. It was in a position of meditating and you can also make it out as religious because the hands are clasp together in a way that shows prayer. Like a divine being. it also looks decorative because it was made of gold, either owned by a wealthy family or an Emperor. The snail art piece looks to be a kettle. This kettle was a special kettle because of the designs it held that had drawings and other symbols. The museum didn’t provide any information on the kettle, but like the Egyptian makeup tool we discussed in class, this was probably just an everyday item that is considered a work of Art in today’s world. One thing I can say about it is that it seems to be representing someone because of the braided hair roped down it’s back. Finally my favorite piece of all, the Dragon holding what I think is a bucket. This Dragon was most likely a decorative piece because it doesn’t have any sign showing that it would mean anything more than just a Dragon holding a vase. It was most likely owned by someone wealthy because it’s made up of gold. In my opinion and best guess, I would say that the winding of the Dragon serves a purpose of showing immense strength by holding up the vase. Korean history is very rich. One important thing I must point out is the feeling I felt in this exhibit. These different pieces all brings out a tranquil mood because everything looks peaceful and clean. It just doesn’t show a history of battles. It shows a history of peace and tranquility.
This art piece was at the entrance of all the exhibits. I don’t know what exhibit it belongs to. But one thing to point out is the obvious symbolism of what innocence is. This picture uses a clear sky to symbolize freedom and uses the white clothing to symbolize innocence. One look at this image and it creates a warm and nice feeling to accommodate the innocence and beauty of the women in the picture. The 3 women all look away to make you feel and ask what are they looking at in the distance. The way the lighting is in the picture create the women to look like angelic figures.