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Forms of Art

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VCDD 290
Unit 1: Forms of Art
Discussion Board
Lisa McAlpine
Art, much like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. Whether or not a piece may be considered “art” depends on how the viewer interprets the piece. For example, many do not find architecture or illustration to be “art”, because they are not traditional forms of art. They are perhaps the most unorthodox forms of art available. However, some find nontraditional forms of art more appealing due to the nonconventional nature of such pieces. Architecture is the most controversial art form, because many see it more as a science than an art form. However, there is a certain viewpoint that makes architecture artistic. Architecture is a visual art in the form of building, an art form that is larger than life, larger than the biggest sculpture. Architecture is not only art, but art that is not only visually appealing, but also has a useful purpose, unlike many other forms of art (ArchiteacherTM – Architecture and Aesthetics, 2002). There are a few timeless architectural pieces that have inspired the public for generations, and will continue for lifetimes to come. One such architectural masterpiece is the Roman Pantheon. The Roman Pantheon was constructed as a temple to the Romanian pagan gods, such as Diana (goddess of the Moon) and Apollo (God of the Sun) (Edkins, 1999). Though no one is completely sure when the Pantheon was built, brick stamps upon the side of the building suggest that the Pantheon was built between 118 and 125 A.D under the rule of Hadrian (117-138 A.D). This Pantheon was built to replace the original Pantheon built in 27 B.C. by Commander Marcus Agrippa, which originally burned to the ground in 80 A.D. The Pantheon was built with the lighter materials toward the top of the dome and heaviest materials for the lowest level travertine. From the dome down to the travertine a mixture of travertine and tufa were used, then brick and tufa, and then simply bricks were used to construct the drum of the building. Pumice, the lightest material, was used to construct the ceiling of the dome. The inside was a combination of tradition and novelty. The Pantheon had been inspiration to artists during the Renaissance. This historic relic has stood for over 1,750 years and has impressed artists, architects, and casual viewers for centuries (Roman Pantheon, 2012). Another historical architectural phenomenon is the Athenian Parthenon, which was built to honor Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. Work on this temple began in 447 B.C and continued until 432 B.C, a total of 15 years. The Parthenon is a Doric peripteral temple. That means that the Parthenon consists of a rectangular floor plan comprised of a series of low steps on each side with Doric columns extending all around the edge of the building. Doric columns tend to be thicker and shorter than other types of columns, and also had the simplest design (Silverman, n.d.). Architects Iktinos and Kallikrates mainly constructed the Parthenon to house the statue of Athena that was made out of gold and ivory by Pheidias. The Parthenon’s structure reflected everything the ancient Greeks held most important, such as attention to detail and an understanding of mathematically explaining harmony in the natural world. These values were reflected in the ingenious architectural elements. Also, the Parthenon was meant to accommodate practical needs while still having visual appeal (Parthenon, 2012). Another great form of art that is greatly under-appreciated is illustrations, which are underrated as silly drawings. Illustrations are actually a fine work of art because they extenuate whatever words they accompany. However, illustrations are not simply silly drawings that are on cereal boxes. Illustrations are also used for book jackets and children’s books, bringing stories and concepts to life and pointing the observer towards the image the artist wants (S, 2000). One of the most commonly known illustrations are the illustrations used for J.K. Rowling’s hit series Harry Potter 1-7. Due to the fact that Harry Potter is an international sensation, several illustrators have remade the cover-art for those historical books, and the United States versions were done by a woman named Mary GrandPre. Mary has done the cover-art illustrations for each of the seven Harry Potter books and her art has become legend. The first book’s cover incorporates Harry Potter on his Nimbus 2000, trying to catch the Golden Snitch. The second book has Harry down in the Chamber of Secrets. The third has Harry on a hippogriff named Buckbeak, flying in front of what looks like a prison. The fourth shows the main character with the dragon from his first task, the egg from the second task, and the entire cover depicts the maze from the third task. The fifth book shows the Department of Mysteries. The sixth book shows Harry and Dumbledore in front of the Pensieve, and the last cover shows Harry at the final battle at Hogwarts. What do all these covers have in common, other than the main character? Each cover-art takes some of the key points in the story and incorporates them into the cover, almost as a preview to the adventures that lay ahead. GrandPre takes the most important parts of the story and compiles them in an enticing way, to not only to be visual appealing to readers, but to also draw readers in. GrandPre uses art, illustration more specifically, to draw audiences in to read the story and then buy it (Cover Art, n.d.). Another fine example of illustrations can be found in a book that is also very well known, which is The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. Now one thing that most did not know is that Dr. Seuss is not only the author of The Cat in the Hat, but also the illustrator. Dr. Seuss’s real name is actually Theodor Seuss Geisel. Dr. Seuss is one of the greatest illustrators because not only did he give his words an image, but his illustrations were age-appropriate. He knew that his main audience were young children, and therefore did not complicate his illustrations, keeping only the essentials. This also left the imagination to fill in the rest, creating a way for readers to influence the story as much as his words. A true illustrator does not take the creativity away from the story through their pictures, but enhances the creativity by pointing readers in the correct direction but still gives readers room to interpret the illustrations as they wish (All About Dr. Seuss, 2004). Art comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms, and no art form should be held above another. Architecture and illustrations may seem the least influential of the art forms, and yet they still inspire others in ways that nothing else could. Good art speaks to the audience, and architecture and illustrations are no different. References:
All About Dr. Seuss. (2004). Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums. Retrieved from http://www.catinthehat.org/history.htm
Architeacher™ - Architecture and Aesthetics. (2002). Welcome to ARCHITEACHER™. Retrieved from http://www.architeacher.org/aesthetics/archi-main.html
Cover art. (n.d.). Harry Potter Wiki. Retrieved from http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Cover_art
Edkins (1999). Roman Gods and Goddesses. Retrieved from http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/roman/
Parthenon. (2012). Ancient Greece. Retrieved from http://www.ancient-greece.org/architecture/parthenon2.html
Roman Pantheon. (2012). Rome.info. Retrieved from http://www.rome.info/pantheon/
Silverman (n.d.). Parthenon. Reed College. Retrieved from http://academic.reed.edu/humanities/110tech/parthenon.html
S. (2000). What Is Illustration? Retrieved from http://www.saraarts.com/whatisil.html

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