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Art Paper Essay

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For my final essay, the six works of art I am going to write about are the Sumerian sculptures, Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, Diptych of Martin van Nieuwenhove, The Oath of Horatii, and the sculpture of David. I believe that these works of art have contributed to changes that are present in our society today. Sculptures as simple as the Sumerian sculptures from ancient Sumer to the more complex sculptures like David, have set guidelines and what the "beautiful" or "important" individual should look like in our society. These works of art have changed social status for certain cultures and brought heroes to life. Art from classical Greece has also influenced icons in our society, like our president.

Art has existed from ancient times, like the Sumerian sculptures. I think these sculptures were one of the first to represent religious figures and heroes of their society. They had their own way of portraying their gods. These statues were kept in Sumerian temples. Once in the temples you would see figures and from these figures stood out the 30'' carved male. This is how Sumerians portrayed their divine. This figure was carved from alabaster and resembled a human. Compared to the Greeks their gods did not have strong bodies and were not defined beautiful. This sculpture looks divine because it is the oldest from the other figures. When staring at them the first thing you pay attention to are the eyes, which are huge. I believe that these figures were the beginning of heroic sculptures and later came the Greeks.

The next art piece that I find interesting is the Venus de Milo from Classical Greece. In the Classic Period male and female sculptures were treated very differently. Male sculptures were usually portrayed fully nude and seen at many places like the Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus. I believe that this sculpture set forth for future nude images of women. This also divided the Greek concept of a woman. Women were classified as either the virgin or the whore. In this era it was accepted for men to be nude because they were the dominant ones. Women needed to respect their husband and obey all rules. Women sculptures usually had full clothing were as men were fully nude. This statue changed the way women were looked at and made it acceptable to portray women nude in art pieces.

One of the most popular paintings to date is the Mona Lisa. Before reading the textbook from this class I really did not understand why this painting was so popular. This painting has raised many questions, for instance who the women is, what social class she's in. In this painting Leonardo idealized the perfect women. In other paintings women were portrayed as minorities and unimportant people. Leonardo changed that in this image. Mona Lisa looks very noble and confident. Her smile and eyes look very mysterious. When I look at this painting I feel as if she is hiding something. She draws your attention and makes you wonder to whom she is. In a way she doesn't look as if she is smiling, sometimes I think she is actually frowning. Like the nude sculpture of Venus, Mona Lisa changed the way women were portrayed. Women can now be resembled as important or confident icons in their era. I believe for this reason that the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci is important and has affected us till this day.

Another interesting painting that I find to be important to this day is Han Memling's Diptych of Martin van Nieuwenhove. This painting expresses the three most enduring values of western culture. During this time, which was about 1487, technology, religion and individualism were important aspects of this era. During this time portraits of individuals were being painted. In this painting the man's hands are positioned as if he was praying with what I think is the bible in front of him. This image is still mimicked to this day. In the March 2003 issue of News Week, George Bush is depicted in the same manner as the praying man. On the cover of the magazine it states, "Bush & God". Images like these derived from past paintings like Memling's. This is why I find his painting to be of importance. It might be all right for an icon like our president to be seen as praying on a cover of a popular magazine, but to me it does not really fit Bush's personality. From looking at that image it looks as if he is trying



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