Art really inspires my passion, so it was easy for me to choose a work of art that I love, but, on the other hand, it is extremely difficult for me to hate a work of art. After much thinking, I chose the work of art I especially admire and the other one which does not stir my blood so much. The prehistoric and ancient periods are very exciting to explore since art was being made in those times.
The work of art I love is from the Chauvet Cave. It is from the Paleolithic period and the works of art found in that cave are the oldest in the world. The Chauvet cave was found by accident when the researchers noticed strange flows of air streaming, so they explored and found the preserved cave protected by natural layers. It was practically sealed and that is why the works of art inside are well preserved.
In the Paleolithic period art was blooming. The cave paintings are true works of art and they depict everyday life of Paleolithic men. The artist which painted most of the paintings in Chauvet cave left the prints of his hand on one wall. It seems that he wanted to leave trace behind him for future generations. What can be learned from this is the urge of men to depict their lives in the best possible way. Today, there are numerous ways of keeping records of everyday life of men, but in the Paleolithic times, the walls of caves were the only means. The need to create was satisfied and the nature helped preserve it.
Wall painting with horses, rhinoceroses, and aurochs. (Chauvet Cave, Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, Ardèche Gorge, France, c. 32.000-30.000 BCE. Paint on limestone) – Chapter 1, page 9
This painting is realistic and well preserved because if the natural conditions in the cave. It depicts the animals which were useful for the lives of Paleolithic men and who used their meat and skin to survive. The aurochs are extinct today, but they were the predecessors of a modern ox. This is a true work of art because the lines are exquisite, depicting these animals in motion. It is hard to capture motion in a painting even in modern times and the Paleolithic artist managed that. The fact that this painting looks like a work of a professional artist of modern times is fascinating. The paintings in this cave are the oldest known to the world. “The most dramatic of the images depict grazing, running, or resting animals, including wild horses, bison, mammoths, bears, panthers, owls, deer, aurochs, wooly rhinoceroses, and wild goats” (Stoksad, 9). There are also fingerprints, footprints and bear skulls. People didn’t live in this cave, they just used to for art expression and perhaps for some spiritual purposes because there are some sorts of artistic installations which include bear skulls.
The lines depict the realistic shaped of those animals. The artist was talented and had good observing skills. It was painted in charcoal. The composition seems to be lively. The animals are moving and the horses are especially beautifully depicted. There are shadows which make the observers aware of the movement and the composition of various animals in the same place. The artist was painting under light and using his hands. The inspiration came from the everyday life and the animals are realistically conveyed on the walls.
It is hard for me to choose the work of art which I hate, or don’t really like. I can’t say that I hate a specific work of art, but I am aware of wha t satisfies my taste and what doesn’t stir my emotions. As a work of art which doesn’t have a great impact on me, I have chosen Nefertiti.
Akhetaten (modern Tell el-Amarna). Eighteenth Dynasty, c.1353-1336 BCE. Painted limestone, height 20” (51cm). Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Proussischer Kulturbesitz, Ägyptisches Museum. (21300) – Chapter 3, page 72
This bust is a master-piece of the Akhetaten style. The sense of form is softening. The contours are relaxed. The material is limestone covered with gypsum. There is crystal in the eye. The proportions of Nefertiti's face are perfect and her face looks modern as she wears make-up as well. Egyptian women used beautufying techniques and so is Nefertiti. Her prominent cheekbones, voluptuous lips and big eyes are the elements of standard beauty. Her face is symmetrical. Nefertiti’s posture is graceful. She also has a long neck which is accentuated because of her up-do. Her clothes are royal and made of rich materials. The colors are pastel and black.
While Nefertiti looks realistic, I am not particularly impressed with her appearance because such faces can be seen in fashion magazines. Beauty is everywhere on display in a modern world, so I am not overwhelmed with her beauty. Nefertiti is still and shows indifference. It is well sculpted. Stoksad says: “The proportions of Nefertiti’s refined, regular features, long neck, and heavy-lidded eyes appear almost too ideal to be human, but are eerily consistent with standards of beauty in our own culture” (Stoksad, 72). That is the main reason why I have chosen this work of art as the one I do not particularly like.
These two works of art can be compared although they belong to different periods of time. The Chauvet painting represents the prehistoric times realistically, which can be compared to the realistic depiction of Nefertiti’s face. However, the animals are what depicts the life of those times in a better way than the face of a ruler’s wife in ancient Egypt. The animals were necessary for the survival of Paleolithic men. There is something special about prehistoric art, cave art and the reason lies in the fact that those men had no one to teach them how to make art. Art inspired their passion too, as much as it inspires mine. They used their senses to depict reality and they found the colors in nature. Everything they depicted including the materials with which they depicted what was most important to them was found in the world around them. I believe that they were aware that they were creating something for eternity and that impresses me the most. They used simple though various techniques. Their bare hands were their main tool and leaving marks of their hands on the cave walls was also interesting. It is a proof of their existence. Every person’s aim is to leave trace of their brief presence on Earth and the Paleolithic artists are the proof that it is in human nature to want to be immortal thorough capturing their way of seeing the world.
Nefertiti is also an exquisite work of art, but I am not as fascinated with that bust because I am used to seeing that kind of beauty. Therefore, I prefer art which was made for art’s sake. Nefertiti’s bust was made to glorify the ruling dynasty and it served its purpose. It is without a doubt a masterpiece of the art of ancient Egypt, however, it doesn’t stir my passion.
My final answer is that art inspires my passion because I know how to appreciate it. During this course I have learned how to analyze works of art objectively, but I also have my own taste which makes me choose art according to my personal taste. In this case Paleolithic art inspires me because it is genuine and shows pure emotions. The animals and all other objects and installations are depicted in the manner which conveys the truth. Art is supposed to provoke true feelings. On the other hand, Nefertiti shows another kind of truth. She is the symbol of the power of ancient Egypt, but her beauty is cold and provokes admiration without much emotions. Her bust and head are adorned and she represents elegance. However, all of that doesn’t seem genuine as much as the cave painting. It is more artificial.
Stoksad, Marilyn, and Michael Cothren. Art History Volume 1(4th Edition). London: Pearson. 2011. Print.