Understanding and Evaluating Art

According to dictionary. com, art is defined as skilled workmanship, execution, or agency as distinguished from nature. ”(www. dictionary. com) Thefreedictionary. com defines art as “human effort to imitate, supplement, alter or counteract the work of nature. ” (www. thefreedictionary. com). I translate this into man taking what is naturally created and either replicates, builds upon, changes in some form or completely opposes it with works of their own. Painting http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/gogh/starry-night/gogh. tarry-night. jpg The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh (ibiblio. org) Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, c. 1889 is a painting of a night sky filled with clouds, blazing stars and a bright crescent moon. All of the features of this painting are quite overstated, but still it is somewhat familiar to me. As you view this painting, your eyes are constantly moving about and although the sky seems to burst with activity, there is something very calming about it. Beneath the sky is a small town with a peaceful vibe about it.

Maybe it’s the steeple which lies right in the center of the town or maybe it’s the lack of chaos within the town, although the sky seems to predict some sort of impending disaster. To the left of the painting is a large omnipresent figure which allows the viewer to interpret its meaning. Is it a mountain? A bush? This work exemplifies the word art to me because it takes nature in its purest form and exaggerates it to create intrigue. It makes the viewer look at, in wonderment, what we normally take for granted. Sculpture http://www. lewes. net/rodin/rodin. html The Kiss, Auguste Rodin (lews. net)

Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss is a sculpture depicting a couple embraced in a passionate kiss. The sculpture was created in 1880 by the French sculptor and was initially meant to be a piece added to the Gates of Hell, a decorative door full of statues for the future Museum of Decorative Arts by the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. The Gates of Hell was never completed. The sculpture is based on a love story reported by Dante in his Divine Comedy. The couple is Francesca and Paolo. Francesca’s father arranged for her to marry Gianciotto in a political ploy to end the war between Malatesta and Rimini.

When Geanciotto’s younger sibling Paolo went to advise Francesca, they fell in love. Although Francesca was tricked into marrying Gianciotto, she had an affair with his brother Paolo until they were caught together in her bedroom after reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere (you can see the book in Paolo’s hand). Gianciotto threw a sword to kill his brother but the sword killed both Francesca and Paolo and they were buried together. This exemplifies art to me because it shows the passion of the couple in detail.

From the way Paolo is holding Francesca ever so gently to the deep wanting of their kiss. The passion comes forth as tasteful, yet very erotic. Architecture The Great Wall of China, Qin Shi Huangdi http://images. google. com/imgres? imgurl=http://amazedme. com/uploaded_images/the_great_wall_of_china-704032. jpg&imgrefurl=http://amazedme. com/2007/07/new-seven-wonders-of-world-announced. html&h=390&w=510&sz=38&hl=en&start=12&um=1&usg=__1jnw0EyIs0JpFmH9VqOouHV60c4=&tbnid=bxVFFpcMcSLNLM:&tbnh=100&tbnw=131&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dthe%2Bgreat%2Bwall%2Bof%2Bchina%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN

The Great Wall of China was built over 2,000 years ago by Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China during the Qin Dynasty (221 b. c. – 206 b. c. ). The wall was erected to defend against the invading tribes, north of China. Two to three million Chinese died while working on this wall which took centuries to erect. (buzzle. com) The Great Wall is one of the largest building constructions ever completed. It stretches across the mountains of northern China, winding north of Beijing. It is made of masonry, rocks and packed earth.

It was over 5,000 km long, 15 – 30 feet thick and 25 feet tall. During the Ming Dynasty (1388-1644), the Great Wall was enlarged to 6,400 km and watchtowers and canons were added. The Great Wall can be seen from Earth’s orbit. The Great Wall of China definitely demonstrates art, in that it exhibits superior skilled workmanship and execution, as distinguished from nature. Photography Afghan Girl, Steve McCurry http://ngm. nationalgeographic. com/2002/04/afghan-girl/original-story-text This photograph, entitled Afghan Girl was shot in 1984 by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry.

This photo is of a 12 year old refugee camp girl and the shot made the cover of National Geographic in 1985. It was later found that the girl’s name was Sharbat Gula. Her identity was not discovered until nearly 2 decades later. Sharbat, with her haunting green eyes, symbolized the suffering among many Afghanistan refugees. (ngm. nationalgeographic. com) This photograph embodies art because according to aesthetic principles, it is beautiful and appealing and has extraordinary significance. Print Land of Plenty, Lucienne Bloch http://www. weisman. umn. du/exhibits/eye/bloch. html This print work was created in 1935 by Lucienne Bloch. It shows a power line looming overhead as a family of starving immigrant workers walks past a fenced-off cornfield and are unable to gain access. This image as well as the title underscore the family’s disconnect from the American dream, and depict the irony of poverty in the land of plenty. Conceptual Art One and Three Chairs, Joseph Kosuth http://www. designboom. com/history/stilllife_enlarge. html Conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth’s work called One and Three Chairs was created in 1965.

The work is a wooden folding chair, a photograph copy of the same chair and a photograph of the dictionary definition of “chair”. “Exponents of Conceptual Art said that artistic production should serve artistic knowledge and that the art object is not an end in itself. ” (itinerart). Therefore I believe that this work definitely exemplifies art because the art piece does not end with the physical chair, it goes on to display the chair in photographic form and then provides the definition of what a chair is.

It’s as if it’s providing different cycles of that one chair. Performance Art Love Stories, Alvin Ailey http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=vu9dQcefHSc&feature=related Alvin Ailey is a dancer, choreographer and founder of the world famous Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. He was born January 5, 1931 in Texas. Mr. Ailey died in New York City on December 1, 1989. His most influential choreographer and mentor was Lester Horton with whom he served his apprenticeship in Los Angeles. (topblacks. com) The piece I selected illustrates art through human movement. Love Stories” uses non verbal communication and choreography in front of a live audience. The audience is able to understand the stories which are being portrayed through dance. References: http://www. ibiblio. org/wm/paint/auth/gogh/starry-night/gogh. starry-night. jpg http://www. lewes. net/rodin/rodin. html http://books. google. com/books? id=WAY_QM0Z6e8C&pg=PA84&lpg=PA84&dq=the+story+of+francesca+and+paolo&source=web&ots=8p67QbxZ9D&sig=a5k1ZApCS-_I2vYBg3qI1I7ZhB8&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result http://www. uzzle. com/articles/interesting-facts-great-wall-china. html http://search. live. com/images/results. aspx? q=national+geographic+-+afghan+girl&FORM=BIRE#focal=8d8f4a6371d71d2a6fade4b0da96de8b& http://www. weisman. umn. edu/exhibits/eye/bloch. html http://www. itinerart. ca/en/understand/glossary. jsp http://www. designboom. com/history/stilllife_enlarge. html http://www. texas-on-line. com/graphic/alvinailey. htm http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=vu9dQcefHSc&feature=related http://www. topblacks. com/arts/alvin-ailey. htm

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