The Importance Of Art Essay, Research Paper
The Importance of Art
Throughout the ages art has played a crucial role in life. Art is universal and because art is everywhere, we experience it on a daily basis. From the houses we live in (architecture) to the movies we see (theatre) to the books that we read (literature). Even in ancient culture art has played a crucial role. In prehistoric times cave dwellers drew on the wall of caves to record history. In biblical times paintings recorded the life and death of Christ. Throughout time art has recorded history. Most art is created for a specific reason or purpose, it has a way of expressing ideas and beliefs, and it can record the experiences of all people.
Most art has some sort of reason or purpose behind it. It might be religious, symbolic, literal, traditional, customary, or just a preference by the artist. Most African art has a symbolic reason. Masks, pottery, figures, portraits, jewelry, baskets and clothing reflect the religious belief of the different tribes. Africans believed that everything in nature is alive. For example: rocks, grass, plants, trees, rivers and mountains. African art was not popular and was looked down upon until recently. In Nigeria, people were tattooed as a test of courage. The figure- “Portrait Head of a King (Oni)” reflects this. The King has this tattooing on his entire face. The King has big slanted eyes, a prominent nose, and big full lips. All these things represented something to the Nigerian people; the King was brave because of his tattooing, his eyes are big so that he could see all around him, his mouth and lips were full because he spoke words of trust and knowledge. Many people thought that African art was too abstract with no attempt to look real. On the other hand, an Italian artist named Bellini painted “Christ Blessing” which is another example of symbolic art. Some of the symbols Bellini uses are- Christ is wearing a purple robe, which is a symbol of grief. Scars on his hand indicated this took place after the crucifixion. Various motifs in the distant landscape allude to the resurrection. For instance, the bird on the barren branches of a tree represents death, a pair of rabbits signify regeneration, there are three robed figures that are Mary Magdalen, Mary, the mother of James and Mary Salome, who having visited the tomb of Christ hurry to tell the disciples of the empty tomb and the bell tower denotes that salvation is found through Christ’s sacrifice. All of these things are in the painting for a reason, they record in detail about an event in history.
Many cultures around the world express their ideas and beliefs in various works of art. In Africa the Nigerian Chokwe tribe held great respect for their dead ancestors. They would pray while carving an ancestral figure. One example of their work is in the figure “Chibinda” (The Hunter). This figure represents the culture hero Ilunga Katele, royal ancestor of the Chokwe people. Ilunga taught the art of hunting. This figure is wearing elaborate headgear, which is a sign of royal rank. He holds a staff in his right hand and a carved antelope horn in his left. The Chokwe believed that when they prayed to the Gods with the figure it would communicate to their dead ancestors. Similarly, The bronze “Standing Oba” sculpture portrays a divine ruler, who is dressed in full ceremonial attire. The beads on his chest covering and his headdress are made of coral. The staff in his left hand was made of ivory and the sword in his right hand was of brass. The Oba would dance with a sword to honor his ancestors. The power of the Oba is because of six small swords on the blade of the large one. Most art has a reason and exploring the similarities will allow the viewer to appreciate the differences of all people.
Art can record history and the experiences of people. Because people could not always read or write, the artist would paint, draw, sketch, and record stories, fables, and historical events. They might do this in the form of landscapes, portraits, murals, sculptures or a painting, so that people could learn about history and particular events. In the painting “The Raising of Lazarus” by Duccio, is an example of an event in history. The picture represents Christ bringing back the dead Lazarus. You can see Lazarus in a tomb, wrapped in cloth with his eyes open. There is a man standing near by holding his nose; the body had obviously started to decompose because Lazarus had been dead 3 days. The background landscape of trees and mountains are very fake looking. Painters usually painted the backgrounds plain. Later an artist named Rembrant painted “A Portrait of a Young Jew.” The man in the painting has a full beard and messy hair, along with a black skullcap clearly identifies him as a Jew. Rembrant captures details, like the serious expression on the mans face. People didn’t like Rembrant because he experimented with different painting techniques. During this period of history, Rembrant was a head of his time. Up close the picture is distorted. This picture must be viewed from a short distance to see the details and the brilliance. His painting reflected photographs with a smooth texture that people of his time did not appreciate. Today Rembrant is admired for his versatility in all his work: portraits, landscapes, and historical paintings.
Why is art so important? It is because art is powerful; it can convey so much information without using language. To conclude, an artist can express ideas, experiences, feelings, both literally and symbolically through various medians. The artists can demonstrates how to fully understand and appreciate the similarities and differences of all people.