Over numerous millennia, artists have afforded humanity incredible creations. The creations include sculptures and paintings. For one to appreciate the story underlying any of the creations accurately, he or she ought to appreciate how the artistic and cultural expressions defining the creation fit into the times when it was created. In any given time or historical context, societies are characterized by particular artistic and cultural persuasions. Such persuasions are clearly expressed in the artworks created during that time or context. Notably, the persuasions are greatly shaped by the extant socioeconomic, political, intellectual, as well as religious, forces, or influences. That became quite clear to me when I visited the Paris-based Louvre Museum. The museum’s collections that caught my attention markedly were the “Venus de Milo” sculpture and “The Fortune Teller” painting.
In December 2014, I visited the Louvre Museum. I was accompanied by two of my family friends during the visit. Upon arriving at the museum, I was stunned by its size. To me, it came off as among the grandest museums globally. It stood out as Paris’ defining landmark. The painting came off as representing a scene from our daily existence. It came off as a scene of a boy being deeply admired by girl. Like a typical young man, the boy came off as gazing into the girl’s eyes flirtatiously. I understood the young man as having been distracted by the girl quite effortlessly. From looking at the painting offhandedly, I could not understand that it represents a rich history.
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From looking at the sculpture casually when I came to its location, I quickly recalled that I had seen features that were similar to those of the sculpture in photographs of the contemporary “Venus de Milo with Drawers” sculpture, created by Dali Salvador. One of my friends remarked that he had a seen a painting of the “Venus de Milo” sculpture in one of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ seals some years ago. Both the sculpture and the painting did not come off as informed by and representing important historical times when I saw them for the first time in the museum.
Information and Descriptions of the Two Artworks
The sculpture was carved around 110BC, most probably by Antioch’s Alexandros. A Louvre Museum’s guide informed me that the sculpture is widely taken as representing Aphrodite, the beauty and love goddess among ancient Greeks according to Curtis (12-18). It is a marble carving which is 203 cm high. It original arms along with plinth are not longer on the carving.
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The painting was done by Caravaggio, a baroque artist based in Italy in the 16th century. The artwork depicts a boy who is dressed foppishly. A gypsy girl is reading the boy’s palm, who looks quite pleased by the act. The boy is gazing into the girl’s face contentedly. As well, the girl is gazing into the boy’s face contentedly. The girl comes off as keen on getting the ring on one of the boy’s fingers off, discreetly. Through the painting, Caravaggio successfully introduced genre into the paintings done by Italians then. A keen studying of the painting shows that it not only serves to represent a common everyday scene effectively, but also represents an underlying or hidden meaning meant for audiences that are observant (Hagen & Hagen 220-226).
My visit to the Paris-based Louvre Museum bolstered my belief that for one to appreciate the story underlying any artwork accurately, he or she ought to appreciate how the artistic and cultural expressions defining the creation fit into the times when it was created. From my visit, I learned that the “Venus de Milo” sculpture’s creation was informed by and represents important historical times. The guide informed me that the sculpture was a variant of the Corinthian sculpture created about 400 years before Jesus’ birth. The guide informed that for one to appreciate the entire meaning conveyed by the artwork, he or she should have an ample understanding of the Hellenistic traditions and academic attributes that characterized its creation. That means that intellectual and social dynamics play a marked role in the creation of specified artworks. As well, the guide demonstrated that the political significance of the sculpture has changed over time.
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The painting’s creation was informed by and represents important historical times. The painting demonstrates that Caravaggio got inspiration for the artworks he created from nature. The painting demonstrates that Caravaggio had abandoned his predecessors’ practice of painting from older artworks’ drawings and copies. The painting shows that artwork is dynamic rather than static. It introduced genre, everyday tales. It showed that latter baroque artists were not keen on basing their works on Greco-Roman or biblical mythologies unlike their predecessors.
Curtis, Gregory. Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo. New York, NY: Knopf, 2003. Print.
Hagen, Rainer and Rose-Marie Hagen. What Great Paintings Say. Köln: Taschen, 2003. Print.
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