Explain How Animals in Art Can Reflect Cultural Values

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Explain how animals in art can reflect cultural values.

Throughout the centuries, animals have appeared in works of art. The animals are often linked to cultural values. Cultural values are what is accepted or believed to be right in a culture. Cultural values differ between places and times, for example the Old Stone Age cave paintings at Lascaux in France(15 000-10 000 BC), give us an insight into the importance of the animals to the existence of the people at that time. While in Surprise, painted by Henri Rousseau in 1891, the exotic animals in the painting were included, and depicted in a unique way, to reflect the social obsession with all things dreamlike and exotic as that was commercially valued. This painting and others in a similar style sold well. This highlights the growing importance of the economy to society at that time.

Each animal has its own features and qualities. These are depicted differently in the cave paintings and in Rousseau’s work. In Surprise, the artist’s favourite colour, green, shows through in the picture as a lush, exotic jungle. The painting shows a lightning storm in the background with the rain falling in a diagonal direction; the wind might be pushing the plants in the direction of the tiger. Rousseau shows the tiger in a different view to most, with a scared expression, cowering beneath a tree, shivering. The painting looks almost childlike with its bright colours, clear outlines and simple style. However, the limited shading and the idea that a tiger could be scared of something as common as a storm or even the inclusion of every single grass blade and leaf, hints at a more mature approach. This work is painted with small delicate brush strokes, so it looks perfect and like paradise in a storm.

The Lascaux cave paintings cover the wall of several caverns known by names like the Great Hall of the Bulls and the Painted Gallery. The images are of bison, horses, deer, and big cats, all animals from Paleolithic times....
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