Comparing Akhenaton and Laocoon and his Sons
The statue of Akhenaton from the Temple of Aton created between ca. 1353-1335 BCE, whose artist remains anonymous, and the statue of Laocoon and his Sons from Rome, created in the early first century CE by Athandoros, Hagesandros, and Polydoros are two masterfully sculpted pieces of art that come from two different walks of life. During the time of creation, the artists of both compositions were experimenting with new ideas and techniques to portray their subject matter more magnificently. In comparison these two pieces are extremely different in background, the formal qualities they possess, and their original function. The backgrounds of these art pieces are quite intriguing because of the many significant changes happening politically, religiously and economically when the statues were produced.
To fully understand the meaning behind an artwork we must analyze its cultural context. When Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, more commonly known as Akhenaton came to power in the mid 14th century he deserted the worship of most of the Egyptian Gods in favor of a monotheistic belief in Aton, the genderless sun disk. He erased the name of Amen from all scriptures and emptied the temples of references of other gods, enraging the priests. He moved the capital downriver; to a place he named Akhetaton, where he built a new city and shrines. Along with the sudden change in religion, there were also extreme changes occurring within the art world as well. The artists of the time were deliberately revolting against the traditional way of representing pharaohs and important figures with faultless features. Influences of the brief, rebellious movement can be seen in almost all aspects of the 13’ sandstone statue Akhenaton. The statue of Laocoon and his Sons made of marble and standing 7’10 ½ “ high, was also subjected to influences of the events happening at the time of creation. In 146 BCE Greece became just another province in the ever...
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