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Art & Society

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Art reflects the ideals, interpretations and goals of a society, and society reflects art. A connection made by architecture, sculpture and painting can be seen through the cultures and movements of time. These connections are evident by the influences seen through similarities and the breaking off point of changes and differences.

The Ancient Greeks erected temples in honor of gods and goddesses. Built in Athens, Greece, the Acropolis is a collection of temples dedicated to deities such as Nike, Athena and Poseidon. The temple Erechtheion (Stokstad 153) is located to the west of the Parthenon. The Erechtheion was built under Pericles from 430 to 405 BCE. The temple has an asymmetrical plan of a long hall, called a nave in Roman basilicas. The temple has porches located at the North, east and south sides. The porches have slender column with ionic capitals. The South porch is most popular. It is referred to as the Porch of Maidens (Stokstad 154). The porch uses six caryatids to hold up the roof instead of columns. These caryatids have a plain doric capital that hold up the ionic entablature. Each caryatid is in the same naturalistic shape of a woman's body. The stance of the body is that of Hellenic statues, weight put on one leg while the other juts out. Interestingly, the three caryatids to the left side have their left leg bent while the caryatids to the right have their right leg bent. This gives the portico a sense of symmetry. The clothing is also very detailed, a characteristic of future Hellenistic sculpture.

Cathedrals in Gothic Europe were built for worship and to house religious relics. Notre Dame de Chartres is located in an enormous cathedral located in Northern France. This high gothic cathedral began construction in 1134 CE and would continue to have additions until the 16th century. Notre Dame de Chartres (Stokstad 521) has a central, cruciform plan in the shape of the Latin cross. Unique stained glass and hordes of sculpture. The main entrance is located on the western facade. The main points of interest on this facade are the rose window, towers, spires and the portal. The entrance is known as the Royal Portal. The Royal Portal consists of three doorways each with a tympanum. The columns that hold up the tympanums are highly decorated with sculptures. The sculptures that line the columns are of different Biblical figures. The extremely slender figures were elongated and to fit on the columns. The feet of the reliefs float in the air, as they have no real base. The clothing on their bodies is stiff and does not show identification of gender or body parts. The columns have an extremely ornamented capital.

Both the caryatids of the Erechtheion and the column statues of Chartres both depict figures holding up other pieces of architecture. The caryatids, however, are two series of three same statues and the statues of Chartres are each different people from the Bible. The Biblical figures are dressed in long, heavy and stiff robes. These robes do not identify with body parts. The clothing of the caryatids that is draped on the bodies is flowing and loose, but the impressions of each caryatid's stomach, breasts, hips, thighs and knees are still evident. The portal columns of Chartres are symmetrical like the caryatids. The stance of the caryatids differ from that of the Chartres reliefs. The reliefs have different stances from the Gothic S-curve to the Greek contraposto stances. The caryatids are all in the same stance. Both are carved from stone. The caryatids are more naturalistic than that of the reliefs. Both buildings were built for religious reasons but for different gods.

Prehistoric art is often related to the art of children, based on conception rather than perception. The Venus of Willendorf (Stokstad 4), also called the Women from Willendorf, is a small fetish sculpture from the Upper Paleolithic Era. This statue was found in Austria in 1908. The original layer of red orche on the sculpture has been lost over the years. Dating to 22000-21000 BCE, this statue is at a handheld size of four and 3/8 inches tall. The figure is of a completely nude female figure with exaggerated female attributes, while the gender-neutral body parts have been reduced. The composition of this conceptual statue is made up of mainly round shapes. The Venus of Willendorf is missing feet and a face. In place of the face is seven rows of zigzags that are meant to embody her hair. These rows fully go around her head where her face should be. Because there is no face present, the main focus of the statue is the exaggerated female attributes. This led to speculations that the purpose of this figure was to represent a sexual object, not a person. There is also theory that she depicts a goddess of fertility, such as Mother Earth.

The Venus de Milo (Stokstad 177) is a late Hellenistic Greek statue, 150-125 BCE, that stands at a height of six foot ten inches. The statue is made of Palian marble. Because she was found in a cavern on the island of Melos, France in 1820, she is also known as Aphrodite of Melos. The statue depicts a partially nude woman with a cloth wrapped around her lower abdomen. The cloth is very intricately detailed and breezy which are both typical characteristics of Hellenistic sculpture. Also, her face projects a melancholy emotion. Her body is very graceful and she has slightly defined muscle structure, hip bones, nipples and collarbone. Her body is twisted and contorted. She portrays beauty and sensuality. The characteristics of this statue give the impression Alexandros of Antioch is the sculptor.

Both statues depict females, maybe even goddesses. Venus of Willendorf is made of limestone, whereas the Venus de Milo is made of marble. The Prehistoric Venus and the Greek Venus show the differences in cultural ideals of beauty and purpose. The Venus of Willendorf is extremely heavier than



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