Art Conversation I – The Purpose of Art: Now and Then | Online Homework Aiders

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Back during a visit to the British Museum, I took this picture of a statue of Horus (ca. 600 BC) based solely on its similarity to a familiar sour-faced blue Muppet. Historians surmise that Egyptian art was primarily religious in nature (Fichner-Rathus 256), which tells me that original sculptors and patrons of the work did not intend for the statue to be a source of amusement. While I do admire the artistry, my own personal life experiences, and lack of belief in Egyptian gods, has overpowered the original intention of the artist. This also shows that the role of art in our world has expanded far beyond the purposes of religion and displays of wealth. The printing press allowed for art to become more widely shared, and during the Age of Enlightenment (17th-19th C) artists such as James Gillray and William Hogarth began to use art to satirize political and religious figures in “cartoons”. In the early to mid-1900s, the art of J.C. Leyendecker and Norman Rockwell on the covers of the New York Post defined Americana. Today, millions share, alter, or create memes, which could arguably be seen as a new form of modern art. Whether or not they rank higher than the recent “Comedian”, better known as “the banana duct taped to a wall”, is left up to individual interpretation.

For this discussion, I would like you to find one piece of art (painting, drawing, sculpture, relief, etc.), made before you were born, share it in the post and then answer the following:

  • Without looking up the history of the piece, what do you think the art was intended for, what was its purpose?
  • Now investigate what the original meaning of the piece is or could be. Is it a tribute to an important figure, who were they, why would it matter? Did someone commission a portrait of themselves as a god? What does that say about them? Does it align with your original interpretation?
  • What does the piece mean to you? Are you amused; does it fill you with anxiety; does it remind you of something else? Does your feeling about the piece align with the artist’s intention?

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