Visual Art Essay The Body
Analyse how artworks represent and document cultural histories
Renowned art curator and critic David Elliot states “art reflects our time, it is about our culture.” By studying throughout time artist’s material and conceptual practice it is clear how artworks represent and document cultural histories. These practices are affected by the culture at the world of the time. The oxford dictionary defines culture as “The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society”. Artworks like ‘Venus of Urbino’, ‘Olympia’ and ‘Portrait (Futago)’ are direct products of time and place. The artists who created these works, Titian, Manet and Yasumasa Morimura were heavily influenced by their society and context. Thus, cultural histories are represented and documented through artworks.
The Renaissance period involved a revival and rebirth of cultural awareness and learning. It took place during the 14th Century and 15th Century in Italy. Artist’s paintings and sculptures reflected a culture focused on religion and Greek mythology. Artists like Botticelli and Titian became heavily interested in the female form and in particular the female nude. Artist began to capture the sexuality and temptation of the female figure. This is illustrated in many of Titians paintings including ‘Diana and Actaen’ 1559, ‘Sacred and Profane Love’ 1514 and ‘Venus of Urbino’ 1538.
The oil on canvas Renaissance painting, Venus of Urbino, 1538 by Titan represents the cultural history of the Renaissance period. This is seen through his use of Academic conventions in his material practice. Throughout the composition of the painting Titian highlights the cultural expectation of artists in the Renaissance period. As seen in Figure 1 Titian has employed the technique of glazing on Venus’ body. This technical mastery involves applying thin layers of oil paint to give the painting richness in colour and light. Thus, creating a glow and softness to Venus’ body
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