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Art and Culture Comparison

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Art and Culture Comparison The Renaissance, considered to be a time of rebirth, was within 1400-1600. The art during this time period consisted mainly of mythological figures and nudes. This art was inspired by the Classical world of Greece. Furthermore, the Baroque period, often referred to as a time of exploration and discovery, occurred during the seventeenth century. Baroque artwork is much like that of Renaissance art. The difference, however, is the much stronger portrayal of emotion within Baroque art. The Art of Europe and America followed after the Art of the Renaissance and Baroque period. This art era occurred between 1700-1900 when there was disarray between European and American societies. This hysteria eventually caused many societal changes to occur—referred to as the Enlightenment or The Age of Reason. During both of these eras, artists created their works from the turn of events that they were experiencing among society and would show reflections of their concerns of what was taking place through their art. Since the beginning of time, art has been inspired by several different aspects and created for numerous purposes. For example, some works of art were solely created for storytelling, and other works for memorial reasons. However, the significance of a work of art is not merely established because of its purpose for being created, but because of the piece’s symbolism, content, and form within each artwork instead. It is seen all throughout history that artworks are often noticeably related to the era and culture in which they were created. This thesis can be discovered between the Art of the Renaissance and Baroque Europe and the Art of Europe and America. The two cultures share chronological parallels—as though the Art of the Europe and America was inspired by the Art of the Renaissance and Baroque. The likes and differences shared between these two eras are most noticeable within the symbolism, form, and content of their artworks. These Art of the Renaissance and Baroque and the Art of the Europe and America reveal comparable and contrastable uses of symbolism. The symbolism that is proposed from these artworks often seems to illustrate aspects and references to Christianity. The stories being told by these works of art are supported by the pieces’ symbolic content. One example of how symbolism of an art work can be seen in its very own story line is Isenheim Altarpiece by Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald in 1512–1516. This artwork symbolizes both pain and suffering as it explains the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and “is designed to make the viewer empathize with Christ’s suffering and to be thankful for his sacrifice” (DeWitte, Larmann, and Shields 387). The symbolism found within the Art of the Renaissance and Baroque tends to be moral based and contains Christian values, whereas the use of symbolism in the Art of Europe and America seems to be more morally ironic and not as profound to the viewer. This idea is accurately exemplified by Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s, The Swing. This particular work of art seems innocent and harmless, but actually presents a harsh and bold symbolic meaning through the painting and “has been interpreted by some as a comment on the Church’s ignorance of immoral behavior” (DeWitte, Larmann, and Shields 401). The use of realism and idealism also creates quite a diverse symbolic realization for viewers. For example, within the Art of the Renaissance and Baroque, the use of idealism is apparent, and the idealist’s value of perfection is symbolized through the unrealistic illustrations of what the artist believed the world should be like. Likewise, the idea of realism is also used throughout the Art of Europe and America. This concept is especially symbolic in the purpose of revealing truth and reality through a sense of strong emotion, obvious in Edgar Degas’, Blue Dancers. The work of art offers a behind-the-scenes view into the dancer’s nerves and concerns about the performance, which is shown within the emotions and actions that are taking place backstage. This symbolizes both true emotions and honesty. Over all, both cultures use symbolism to accurately construct their artworks, yet the types of symbolic used are reflections of their very diverse concepts and purposes. The basic form of the Art of the Renaissance and Baroque and Art of Europe and America are fairly similar. Both share artistic devices such as lining, perspective, coloring, volume, and dimension. However, the use of these five devices varies in accordance to that particular artwork’s era, inspiration, and context. The Art of the Renaissance and Baroque is seemingly three-dimensional, contains pastel colors, creates fictional atmospheres in the use of the mythological figures, and uses several perspectives, contrasts, volumes, and outlines to direct the eyes of the viewer to the focal point of the artwork. These pieces typically contain a large group of people surrounding a large detailed architecture. This is exemplified in Raphael’s, The School of Athens. The Art of Europe and America contains many of these same devices. However, they are used differently. Like art from the Renaissance and Baroque ear, art of Europe and America is also typically three-dimensional, colorful, and contrasting. Conversely though, art from this era tends to contain louder and more vibrant colors instead of the pastel colors of the art of the Renaissance and Baroque. Also new to this era, he use of texture in the Art of the Europe and America is to create a more lively and emotional piece of art. Many of these artworks display that of a landscape or nature, very bodly showing the use of colors, volume, contrast, and perspectives. This can be seen in both Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s, The Swing and John Everett Millais’, Ophelia. The Art of the Renaissance and Baroque and the Art of the Europe and America both make use of similar devices and concepts because they are consecutive time periods. Yet, artists from each era use the devices differently in efforts of creating a dissimilar impression and view of their time period’s artworks. In addition to the aspects of symbolism and form, the Art of Renaissance and Baroque and Art of Europe and America express also an overall purpose of an artwork by the use of content. The uniqueness of each piece and the devices used to understand what is being presented within each piece of art are apparent within their own content. Because of the use of symbolism in Renaissance and Baroque art, it is understandable that Christianity is being demonstrated. Michelangelo’s ceiling painting of the Sistine Chapel, located in the Vatican City, supports this concept strongly. The Old Testament story of Genesis is being illustrated in this brilliant painting, beginning with the creation story and ending with the Great Flood. Along with the idea of idealism, the nudity of the Creation of Adam panel could be related with the perfection of man (DeWitte, Larmann, and Shields 381). Conversely though, the content displayed throughout the art of Europe and America is, instead, the idea of reality and societal change. The Banjo Lesson is a painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner that “challenges the stereotype then common in America, of smiling black men as simple-minded entertainers” (DeWitte, Larmann, and Shields 409). Tanner illustrated not only the reality of societal issues within the painting, but also created an intense emotion of both sympathy and empathy for people like the man in the painting. The most diverse characteristic of the works of art between the two cultures is the overall content exemplified in each individual artwork. The use of symbolism and form both work together to communicate a unique message. However, the diversity between the two different cultures and their separate intentions are made extremely evident by their arts’ content. In conclusion, several aspects of the Art of Renaissance and Baroque Europe and the Art of Europe and America are comparable; the Renaissance is even thought to be an inspiring era for the Europe and America, or the Enlightenment. However, the two cultures hold also many dissimilar ideas and concepts. The foundations for their art creations are fundamentally the same, yet the manner in which the foundations are exemplified varies between the two. Similarities and differences both are found between the two art cultures’ symbolism, form, and content. The Art of Renaissance and Baroque and the Art of Europe and America present a development of artistic devices through correlation that created a smooth and easy transition from one era to the next.

Works Cited
Debra J. DeWitte, Ralph M. Larmann, and M. Kathryn Shields. Gateways to Art;
Understanding the Visual Arts. Thames & Hudson, New York, 2012,

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