Art History Paper 1

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Art History Paper
Comparing Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci to Woman I by Willem de Kooning's

Danielle MorrisDecember 16, 2010
ART-112-102 - Art History II

What qualifies as an artwork? What different meanings, roles, and expectations have been given to art? What human and social values—creativity, originality, beauty or preciousness—have been valued in this history of cultural production and furthermore, what relevance or significance do they have today? This course is an introduction to art and to the discipline of art history, beginning with the early Italian High Renaissance period and leading up to the present day Modern Era. First, we will be discussing a very significant artist by the name of Leonardo da Vinci. In addition to looking closer at several of his renowned pieces of work he has accomplished; we will mainly focus on his most prominent piece called the Mona Lisa and how it has shaped this tradition, some of which have become inseparable from how we think about art itself. The second artist that we will discuss is Willem de Kooning's, a Modern 20th century artist; and we will focus on his famous piece of work called Woman I. This survey will discuss the material and technical history of these works, what this can tell us about their meaning of art over time, and how art has evolved from the past to the present.

High Renaissance art is characterized by self-confident Humanism. Here we see artists admiring classical art and architecture as a way to show off their classical knowledge or for a patron who commissioned these works to seem more knowledgeable about the world and its history. Leonardo began to create deep paintings with spatial illusions, which will be more prevalent in the Baroque period. Leonardo da Vinci, the great artist and inventor of the fifteenth century, came into existence on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy and died in the year 1519. When Leonardo was just fifteen years old, his artistic career had begun. He was an apprentice for a famous artist by the name of Verrochio. While working for Verrochio, he did little things in the background of paintings and eventually became an even better painter than Verrochio. From here he became famous in his early twenties. He achieved much in his lifetime, including beautiful paintings, creative and unusual inventions, life-like sculptures, and many scientific advances. He wasn’t only a painter, but also an inventor. Inventing things like flying machines, geometry, mechanics, municipal construction, canals and architecture.

Leonardo da Vinci liked to use two main types of techniques in his work sfumato and chiaroscuro. Sfumato is a technique that artists use to make smoky overall haze effect to a painting using a lightly tainted varnish. Leonardo da Vinci liked to use this technique because dusk was his most favorite time of the day and during dusk usually came fog. Chiaroscuro is a technique in art that is ‘characterized by strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for using contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modeling three-dimensional objects such as the human body.’ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro).

The Mona Lisa is also known as La Gioconda; and is perhaps Leonardo da Vinci's most famous of paintings. It is an oil painting, painted on poplar wood. Painting the Mona Lisa, Leonardo elevated himself into another station of artist, those that create new forms and perspectives. The relatively small painting of Mona Lisa manages to craft one of the most intense and effective art experience into a compact 30" by 20 ½" frame. The painting is most famous for the smile of the woman, which people have been trying to decipher for a long time. Many believe that the portrait is that of da Vinci himself, while many also place a great deal of mystic...
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