Understanding and Evaluating Art Term Paper

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The Wikipedia web site defines "art" as a "generic term for any product of the creative impulse," while Encarta Encyclopedia considered this concept as "the product of human creativity in which materials are shaped or selected to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form." These definitions are related in the study of eight web sites, all of which center on the subject of (various forms of) art:

The Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) web site (http://www.hubbardstreetdance.com/home.asp) centers on and provides an overview about street dancing through providing information about different institutions and centers that offer street dancing tutorials, competitions, other street dance-related events.

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. (http://www.warholfoundation.org) showcases the not only the works of Andy Warhol, but also functions as a venue for artists to take advantage of grants and art projects that would be beneficial for their development/improvement as visual artists.

Music Television's (MTV) (http://www.mtv.com/music) web site, though not solely centered on popular music, provides sufficient information about the extant and prevalent music genres of the period. The profusion of information about music-related multimedia information, such as videos, TV programs, and events illustrate the fusion with and significance of music in people's everyday lives. Apart from being a medium for artistic expression through music, MTV as a television network also reflects the present popular culture (i.e., art) in the context of television as a form of artistic expression. In the same way that music found a new form of expression through music videos, TV found a new method to "re-create" music art audio-visually through MTV's broadcast of music videos.

Festival de Cannes (http://www.festival-cannes.fr/index.php?langue=6002) serves as the bastion of support for the development of "motion picture arts" and the "film industry," guaranteeing that art through the audio-visual medium would truly reflect the filmmaker's artistic expression rather than its market/commercial potential.

The architecture and design community, ArBitat (http://www.arbitat.com) highlights architectural art mostly in the postmodernist context. The ArBitat vision as an interactive organization for architects and art architecture enthusiasts was made possible through its discussion board, providing it opportunity not only to showcase architects' works, but also to allow architects exchange information and ideas about topics concerning architecture and its further improvement.

2. Two artifacts from Egypt, Face from a Coffin and Block Statue of Nedjem, which are available through the Smithsonian Institution (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery) and the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, respectively. The Face from a Coffin had been created at an estimated period of 1539-1190 BCE. The block statue, meanwhile, was created during the reign of Ramses II, circa 1279-1213 BCE.

The Face from a Coffin was primarily made of two components: glass and wood. Wood was used to create the face figure, which includes detailed facial lines, while glass was utilized to give life to the eyes and eyebrows of the face. Characteristic among all Egyptian artifacts, the face figure contained curved lines in order to give the wood carving an illusion of 'softness,' which is a general characteristic of the human face. Elongated oblong shapes predominate the artifact, as reflected in its face shape, curve of the lips, eyebrow, and eyes; moreover, this elongated oblong shape provides a feminine quality to the artifact, giving the observer the impression that the entombed was a female. (Artifacts similar to the Face from a Coffin were used as attachments to Egyptian tombs). The wood-and-glass combination in the artifact made it more real, while the glass eye and the face's curved lines made it dynamic -- that is, the Face from a Coffin had achieved an almost human-like quality. Of course, these special qualities of the artifact parallel its special function as ornaments for mummy-shaped coffins housing dead members of the nobility. The use of a special component such as glass and the human-like perfection of the wooden face reflected the importance of the individual for whom this artifact was made for and offered.

Compared to the dynamic and human-like image of the wooden face, the Block Statue of Nedjem had a seemingly greater purpose and meaning despite its lack of aesthetic appeal. Shaped to conform a block, the statue shows the image of Nedjem filled with inscriptions in the front and back of its body, with the figure of Ptah, considered as the "creator god." As opposed to the Face's soft, curved lines, the statue is mainly made up of straight lines outlining the form of a block; the statue curves only at upper part of the statue where the head, shoulders, and arms of Nedjem meet. The statue has the appearance of a primitive artifact because of the lack of other components, lacking the sophistication and artistic appeal of the Face. However, it became evident from the inscriptions on the statue that it has a greater function than the Face, for it served as the epitaph of mummy-shaped coffin, addressing the dead's social status and function in the society.

3. Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam, Creation of Eve" and Leonardo da Vinci's "The Virgin of the Rocks" share similarities in terms of their artistic technique or craft and form of communication. Both paintings introduced the technique of foreshortening, a technique in manipulating the painting's perspective to give an almost three-dimensional perception of the visual artifact. Michelangelo used foreshortening to give the dynamic quality of his painting, thereby creating more space (of illusion), allowing him to add more elements in it that made it not only highly-detailed, but also more artistically meaningful. Da Vinci's "The Virgin of the Rocks" also used foreshortening to create an illusion of more space, particularly in the upper section of the painting, wherein more details and elements were added (i.e., the horizon, mountains and clouds). Apart from the similarity in technique, both paintings also shared religious meanings, being artifacts of the Church: Michelangelo's was part of the ceiling frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, while da Vinci's was intended as an altarpiece.

Despite their similarities, "Creation" and "Virgin" have also differences, most especially in each painting's technical details. While seemingly-flowing curved lines predominate "Creation," da Vinci's painting has a combination of both curved and straight lines, wherein the latter was used to create the vertical orientation of the painting. Michelangelo's objective was to put as many elements as possible in his painting, therefore, both vertical and horizontal orientations were used (although the painting was mainly divided into two horizontal sections: the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve. Apart from the lines and orientation of the paintings, da Vinci used darker hues of color as compared to Michelangelo's light- (and bright) colored painting. The use of these hues for each painting was to convey the thought that it expresses, wherein the lightness of "Creation" showed the glorious celebration of God's creation of humanity through Adam and Eve, while da Vinci portrayed the presence of a loving Mother despite the destituteness of life shown through the jagged rocks and darkness of the painting.

4. Three works of art during the Renaissance period demonstrate the various techniques that had prevailed during this period: "The Adoration of the Shepherds" by Andrea Mantegna (after 1450), "Baptism of Constantine" by Raphael (16th century), and "Virgin and Child with Saint Anne" by Albrecht Durer (1519).

The earliest among these paintings is "Adoration," which was created in the 15th century. It already possesses the technique of foreshortening, as was effectively illustrated in the upper section of the painting. However, foreshortening was most effective in the lower section of the painting, wherein vital elements such as the image of the Virgin Mary and the child, elevated by a piece of land, were shown. There is a combination of both dark and light hues of color in the painting: dark hues were mostly used for background details, while lighter ones served as…

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