From stick figures in the sand and the earliest animals painted and carved in stone, people worldwide have reacted to the world by making images. The fundamental goal of art, especially in the past, was to convey meaning and express important ideas, revealing what was significant to every society, by arresting images. In recognizing the subject matter of any painting, you have to look at the artist's intentions, which are regularly connected to social conditions, national or global issues and the demands of the public. To avoid the pitfalls of judging all art by our own personal experiences and subjective views, we have to learn the background surrounding the artist when the work was created- the social and historical conditions of the time and the philosophical views which affected the way in which the artist viewed the world. (Russell, 1984)
Art is as varied as the life from which it springs and each artist portrays different aspects of the world they know. Briefly, it may be said that artists paint to discover truth and to create order. The creators of art make discoveries about the wonders and beauty of nature and the dignity and nobility of man. They give these concepts an order to help us understand life in a greater depth. In understanding the history and style of any period of art, we have to comprehend the balance between social and political development of that particular era. Within each and every period, development of style is affected by a response to particular philosophies, social and economic conditions, political and spiritual influences. World Issues have been reflected in art throughout the ages, and this premise is supported by three particular periods of time. This is clearly evident when viewing ancient art, where symbolism was an important part of society. Also, through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where art was a critical form of expression and finally in the modern age of art where even in looking into the works of individual artists, one can get a sense of the feelings and events of the time and the world. Let us now examine theses three periods in detail, to support this hypothesis.
If we are aware of meaning of religious, political, or other symbols, it will better our understanding of the frame of mind of the artist. Each piece of art is unique, a reflection of the artist's perceptions, insights and experiences. Certain aspects of the world are often exaggerated, or eliminated, while the art reflects both the period and the artists own orientation. Aristotle once said that "Art is the human intelligence playing over the natural scene, ingeniously affecting it toward fulfillment of human purposes." (Bronowski 64) This wonderful world of creation began in ancient times, when people first created images to express their response to the world around them. Various civilizations in the past painted images preparing to understand life after death. Another favorite subject was the glorification of gods and rulers. The subject which an artist selects for a painting depends largely upon the time in which he/she lives. A painter painting in the middle ages would probably have picked a religious subject, for that was almost the only kind of topic portrayed at the time. Still, outside factors of current events and different world issues would greatly effect the artists state of mind, and therefore his paintings.
As you look into the ancient past of Egypt, it is quite interesting to note the bureaucracy in the times of 3000 BC, which helps us to understand the art work accomplished in these times. As the Egyptians were united under one central government and ruled by a pharaoh, they were organized by control through a tightly organized bureaucracy. The Pharaoh dominated all facets of the peoples lives. The people dreamed of afterlife as a reward for their hard work while living, and often depicted afterlife where the spirit could find pleasure wandering unseen...
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