Compare and Contrast Two Works of Art

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Anthony Arteaga
Art History Ancient World
Homework Assignment #1

Compare and contrast the subject, concept, and the Formal Element of the two works of art. Also, explain which category this work falls in. The two pieces I have chosen can be found on page 200, figure 6-51, Battle of Centaurs and Wild Beasts from Hadrian’s Villa and on page 434, figure 14-8, Battle of the Bird and Serpent. Not only did I choose these pieces for their beauty, but also because both works have similar yet different subjects, concepts, and formal elements. Both of these images have subject matter that is the same even though they’re different. The subjects for the Battle of Centaurs and Wild Beasts from Hadrian’s Villa are animals; centaurs (male and female), tiger, lion, cheetah; as well as a pelt and rocky scenery. The subjects for Battle of the Bird and the Serpent are animals; peacock, a serpent, and birds in an acorn tree. Both pieces are nature based animals that live in a world where survival of the fittest is reality. The main difference between piece one and two is that in piece one; centaurs are mythological creatures and in piece two the animals are not fictional. Both pieces have subjects that are the same; however their concepts can be perceived as similar but different. Both pieces have themes that can be perceived as alike. The first image is a male centaur raising a boulder over his head to crush a tiger that has severely wounded a female centaur. The pelt around his arm suggests he returned from a hunting expedition to find his loved one, either lover or sibling, critically wounded by three other beasts and his facial expression is that of concern, instead of rage or fury. The concepts in this battle scene are protection, rescue, vengeance, self-defense, and/or survival. I use the word survival because the three feline beasts are animals that need to eat as well. They need to eat like all animals and if there is no prey, then there is no food to survive. The second piece is a peacock holding a dead serpent in its beak. The concepts in this piece are battle, victory, triumph, and dominance, when one creature overcomes another. Our textbook says that this scene is an allegory for Christ (peacock) tricking and overcoming Satan (serpent). The peacock has an expression of being removed to the outcome of the battle. Even though both pieces are about battle and bloodshed; there are differences in the concept. In the first piece the male centaur is the favored winner of the fight, because of his size, blunt weapon, and his element of surprise. But regardless the outcome, he already lost when the female centaur was killed. Whether he kills or is killed by the remaining felines, the female is gone and he can’t bring her back. Unlike the second piece where there is an established winner and loser. Now that I’ve discussed the concepts of these two pieces, I’d like to talk about their formal elements. The formal elements are certain elements that are used to describe the subject or image. The elements are shape, texture, line, color, space, and values. The shapes in piece one can be found in the background as geometric shapes. There is a triangular stone in one corner and a flat rectangular stone in the opposite corner. A cheetah is mounted on a cube, ready to pounce. The boulder the centaur holds over his head is rectangular block. The scenery is mostly rigid shapes but the subjects have curves in their tails and muscle tone. The shapes in the second piece can vary. In the peacocks wing, body, thigh, and tail you can see a closed tear- drop shape. There is a row of white circles on the bird’s neck and two rows of white circles on its wing. The tail has a leaf pattern that matches the leaves on the acorn tree. The serpent has a circular pattern on its belly and a scaly pattern on its backside. There are geometric shapes in both pieces; however, the geometric shapes are...
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