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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Western Aesthetics - The History of Art

Despite the fact that there have been evidences of the existence of paintings even before the Neolithic Era, "Art", as a concept, is, probably, no older than 350 years. What distinguishes mere painting from art is the aura that surrounds art - the ability of the painting to command awe and respect from the viewer.

Art, as we know it, began with the birth of oil painting. Prior to this, all paintings were in the form of frescoes, which generally do not last for long periods of time, as a result of which, most of them are lost today - the only ones remaining are those that have been periodically renovated (For example, the frescoes on the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome). Oil paintings go all the way back to 650 CE. Oil paintings originally started out as having three panels - a fairly broad central panel, flanked by narrower panels. The central panel generally depicted a religious scene, with a painting of the patron on either one of the side panels.

With the emergence of guilds, Nationalism, Industrialization and Capitalism, there was a shift in art as well. Art was no longer centred around religion and money began to play a more important role than it did earlier. In short, art no longer had a ritualistic or communal function. Canvases shrunk from three panels to a single panel and the main focus of the painting was either the patron or the artist, himself. Almost at the same time as this change in the economics of society came the renaissance, which caused a lot more attention to be paid to art.

From the fourteenth century to the seventeenth century, art aimed at verisimilitude (the quality of realism), which was eventually achieved by Rembrandt, who studied the play of light on objects and worked towards capturing the object and the shadows, exactly as they fell, on canvas.

From the seventeenth century CE, art began to move into the Abstract Phase. By the nineteenth century, artists, such as Monet and Manet, had contributed largely towards abstract art. Edvard Munch made the transition from Abstract Art to expressionist art with several of his paintings, the most famous, probably, being The Scream.

Not too long after, with an understanding of the fact that reality has a number of dimensions to it, came Pablo Picasso and Cubism. What cubism seeks to do is bring out the emotional and psychological side of a person as opposed to merely the outer form of the subject.

By 1939, objects began to disappear from new paintings and colour played a more prominent role. This was due to the belief that colour, itself, can create emotions in the viewer and there is, therefore, no need of a subject as such.

During the time of the Second World War, the various forms of art disappeared. However, after the war, painting picked up once more, with all the styles merging, to form today's version of Art.


Anil Pinto said...

amazingly good job, Teena. Keep it up.

Teena George said...

Thank you!