August 3, 2013
Art not only helps to define who we are as individuals, it reflects the culture in which it was created. Art defines not only a country’s culture, their politics, religion, ethics, and aesthetics, but the era at the time in which the art was formed. Ancient art dates from 2012 BCE to 2012 CE. CE was formally referred to as AD, or Anno Domini, the year of our Lord, but changed as we became a more global society, Art is an important tool in our history because unlike written word which can be misconstrued when a person views art, you see it exactly as the artist envisioned it.
Panel of Lions- Chauvet Caves
Art history is a record of how people in the past lived, felt, and acted; it allows us a glimpse of a long ago deceased culture. To look at Ancient Greek art is to realize the importance and accomplishments of human beings. Though the Greeks used art to honor the Gods, it was those same Gods that were created in human image. Even their sculpture, pottery, and temples, were created under the fundamental principle of arête, meaning to reach one’s fullest potential.
Without Rome’s influence, we would not have concrete or the Pantheon, which is still in use today. While more secular and utilitarian in form, the Romans developed the use of the arch, the vault, and the dome, leading for a much grander form of architecture. From the Greeks example, the Romans developed mosaic decorations, which became a very important aspect of patrician domestic decoration.
The Paleolithic Period is referred to as the Stone Age, mainly because stone artifacts are the only artifacts that have survived. In Paleolithic paintings, the images of humans rarely appear and when they do they are more simplified and abstract than the images of animals, which portray an expressive naturalism. Discovered by three cave explorers in 1994, the Chauvet Caves, located in the Ardeche region of Southern France date back to around 30,000 BC. The most famous cave findings in the world, this Pont d’ Arc find holds the oldest known paintings. Painted in charcoal and earthen pigments, lifelike images of horses, rhinoceroses, tigers, and other animals that long ago became extinct show us what life was like for our ancestors.
It has long been the belief of scholars that the purpose behind this naturalistic art was to bring the spirit of the animals into the rituals of the hunt. It is believed that the Chauvet Caves were used as a sanctuary where the Paleolithic people initiated their youth in ceremonies. This theory is based on both symbolic and metaphysical associations with the animals portrayed in these ancient cave paintings.
The Chauvet Cave features a coveted scene of a pride of lions hunting together for bison; as this was a permanent place of inhabitation for man, this art represents a level of development for mankind. Chauvet Caves is divided into two parts. While the first part is mainly red images with some black imagery, the second part is mainly black images of animals. Along with the pride of lions is a painting of three horses facing one another.
More than 60% of the animals identified at Chauvet-Pont-d’-Arc were considered dangerous mammoth animals. These animals represent the animals that primitive man hunted at the time.
It is surprising the amount of shading and perspective that went into the creation of these cave creations. These refinements contrast greatly with the images we are used to seeing.
Egypt, known for such mesmerizing works as The Great Pyramids, had deserts on both sides of the Nile. Because of this, Egypt remained relatively unscathed from outside influence for 2,500 years, leading to their own distinctive style of architecture, painting, and sculpture.
While their religious belief focused largely on life after death, care and...
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MUSE (2010). Upper Saddle River, NJ: My Unique Student Experience. Course Smart Solutions.
The Caves of Chauvet-Port-d-Arc (n.d.). Accurel/www.culturecommunication.gouv.fr/Ministere de la culture. Retrieved August 3, 2013, from http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture.arcnat/org.
The Cave Art Paintings of the Chauvet Cave (n.d.). Bradshaw Foundation. Retrieved August 3, 2013, from http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/chauvet.
Queen Nefertari Playing Senet, Tomb of Nefertari (n.d.). Queen Nefertari Playing Senet, Tomb of Nefertari. Retrieved August 3, 2013, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mythology and Iconography of Diving Kingship in Ancient Egypt/American Research Center in Egypt (n.d.). American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE). Retrieved August 3, 2013, from http://www.arce.org/chapters/newyork/eve-mythology-and-iconography-of-divine-kingship-in-ancient-egypt.
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