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Purposes and functions of art

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Heather Skender

on 3 February 2013

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Transcript of Purposes and functions of art

Purposes & Functions of Art Communicating Information
Day to Day Living
Worship and Ritual
Personal Expression
Social Causes
Visual Delight Because art makes a statement that can be understood by many people, it often has been used to impart information and ideas. During the Middle Ages in Europe, stained-glass windows and stone sculpture of the cathedrals taught Bible stories to an illiterate population. Many works of art provide evidence about the historical period in which they were created. Today, many artists use photographs and movies to make works that inform us (Frank 2). Many times, art that is used to communicate information is what we would consider to be "commercial art." There is some commercial art that is so well done that it falls under both the "communication" and "visual delight" category. Sometimes it seems that there is no art involved at all, and it is purely just poorly designed advertising. "Don't let germs settle down," said the copy line on these toothpaste ads, showing ancient ruins being excavated from inside teeth. Ad by JWT Shanghai (Nudd). In the nineteenth century, posters designed by the French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) became a popular form of communication. Toulouse-Lautrec elevated posters to an art form by conceiving of the image as a painting rather than a purely utilitarian communication. Some of Toulouse-Lautrec's most famous posters advertise "La Goulue," a can-can dancer who performed nightly at the Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris. The purpose of the poster was to communicate to viewers that they could buy tickets to be La Goulue at the Moulin Rouge "tous les soirs" (every evening) (Schneider Adams 54). Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,
La Goulue at the Moulin Rouge, 1891.
Color lithograph, 6 ft. 3 in. x 3 ft. 9 2/3 in.
San Diego Museum of Art. Objects of all kinds, from ancient, carefully crafted flint knives to today's personal music players, have been conceived to delight the eye as well as serve more obviously useful functions. Well designed objects and spaces-from spoons to cities-bring pleasure and efficiency into our daily lives (Frank 3). An example of how good design that can help us get from Point A to Point B is the Mission One motorcycle. All the lines seem to point forward, suggesting the 150 m.p.h. the motorcycle can top. The black body shields the engine which is powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. It is fast, quiet, green, and beautiful (Frank 3). Mission One. Electric Powered Motorcycle. 2009.
Mission Motors, San Francisco.
Designer: Yves Behar.
Courtesy Mission Motors. Nearly all objects and spaces we use in our private and public lives were designed by artists and designers. The best of our buildings, towns, and cities have been designed with the quality of their visual form-as well as their functions-in mind. Each of us is involved with art and design whenever we make decisions about how to style our hair, or how to furnish and arrange our living spaces. As we make such choices, we are engaged in universal art-related processes, making visual statements about who we are and the kind of world we like to see around us. This screen shot, taken from http://www.apple.com/iphone/design/ on January 7, 2013, is an example of the thought designers put into creating day to day functional objects, such as a cell phone. The text says that the "iPhone 5 is made with a level of precision you'd expect from a finely crafted watch-not a smartphone." There are many people and many hours that go into creating something like this-they know that, even if the operating system of the phone is fantastic, the phone will never sell if it's not "pretty." In many societies, the arts have a spiritual component. People throughout history have used their best skills to fashion beautiful objects to aid in prayer, contemplation, worship, magic, and ceremony (Frank 4). The religious beliefs of a society can powerful motives for creating works of art. As early as around 7000 B.C., the Neolithic people of Jericho refashioned skulls by modeling facial features in plaster, adding hair, and embedding shells into empty eye sockets. Scholars believe these skulls were part of an ancestor-worshiping cult. With aspects of the face thus restored, the face seemed more alive (Schneider Adams 42). Neolithic plastered skull. c. 7000 B.C.
Lifesize, Jericho, Archeological Museum,
Amman, Jordan. It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to study the history of art without also studying the history of religion. There are so many artworks used in or about religion that religion and art sometimes seem to go hand in hand. The people of Aosta, Italy commissioned Stephen Cox to create St. Anselm's Alter for Canterbury Cathedral in England. Cox fashioned beautiful green marble excavated from Aosta into a shape that bring a modern look to the ancient church. The marble has striking white veins that the artist included in the design. The symmetrical front suggests the upper part of a cross, with the arms of Christ extended (Frank 6) ("Ecclesiart" ). Stephen Cox.
St. Anselm's Altar. 2006.
Aosta marble. Height 35".
Chapel of St. Anselm, Canterbury, England. Byzantine artists created small, portable images of holy figures on wood panels or ivory plaques (now called "icons" by art historians). In the eighth century, Byzantine icons became the subject of violent debate in the Orthodox Church. The issue was whether an image of a saint would cause people to revert to paganism and the world of idols. People against icons are now known as iconoclasts-they took the Second Commandment, to not create likenesses of anything in Heaven or Earth, literally. Supporters of icons, now known as iconophiles, argued the imagery could be used to convey the humanity of Jesus and the saints. Anyone supporting icons could be-and were-executed.

Most of the icons from the time of the banning (726-843 A.D.) were destroyed by the iconoclasts. The example shown here, a gift from Constantinople to the Russian city of Kiev is from the twelfth century (Schneider Adams 345). The Virgin of Vladimir, c. 1131.
Wood panel, painted section 30 3/4 x 21 1/2 in.
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. The book "Show Me How" is a nearly wordless "illustrated guide to life." This fun and handy book uses simple illustrations to show you how to do anything from diapering a baby to wrestling an alligator. It is a great and straight-forward example of how art can be used to communicate information. Instructions number 14 and 15 from the book show you how to carve a hollow book and assemble a super slingshot. (http://www.showmenow.com/?q=Book). (Fagerstrom, Smith, and et al 14-15) The Parthenon, built in 447 B.C. and located in Athens , Greece, is one of the most famous Classical Greek buildings. The structure itself is a complicated and amazing work of art. It was built as a temple for Athena, the patron of Athens and Greek virgin goddess of wisdom. A 12 meter (39.3701 feet) ivory and gold statue of Athena was located in the building-one could go to the Parthenon to worship and pay their tribute to their patron goddess. The image shown here is a modern reconstruction of the statue. image from http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/Arts/AthenaParthenos.htm The famous sculpture of David, created by Donatello sometime between 1420 and 1440. It is an achievement in art history as it is the first unsupported standing work of bronze created during the Renaissance and the first male nude sculpture created since before the Middle Ages. The sculpture shows a young boy, David, with his foot on the decapitated head of the giant Goliath. The story of David and Goliath comes from 1 Samuel 17 in the Bible. Donatello, David.
c. 1420-1440. Bronze, 5 ft. 2 1/2 in. high.
Bargello Museum, FLorence. We all share the basic human need to know and be known by others. Many artists help meet this need by expressing their personalities or feeling or worldviews in art; the art then becomes a meeting site between artist and viewer. (Frank 6). Neolithic plastered skull. c. 7000 B.C.
Lifesize, Jericho, Archeological Museum,
Amman, Jordan. Some artists express themselves through painting, drawing, photography, film making, or other traditional means of art. Some express themselves by using their bodies as canvases. This can be temporary artworks such as the way makeup is applied or hair style and color or permanent artworks such as piercings or tattoos drawn by them or someone else. Donatello, David.
c. 1420-1440. Bronze, 5 ft. 2 1/2 in. high.
Bargello Museum, FLorence. Many of us probably think of visual delight as the first function of art. Indeed, art can provide pleasure, enjoyment, amusement, diversion, and embellishment in our world. Art that is visually attractive and well crafted can "life us above the stream of life," as one aesthetician put it. Absorbed in contemplating such works, we forget where we are for a moment (Frank 11). Neolithic plastered skull. c. 7000 B.C.
Lifesize, Jericho, Archeological Museum,
Amman, Jordan. Donatello, David.
c. 1420-1440. Bronze, 5 ft. 2 1/2 in. high.
Bargello Museum, FLorence. Donatello, David.
c. 1420-1440. Bronze, 5 ft. 2 1/2 in. high.
Bargello Museum, FLorence. What we see influences how we think. Artists in many societies have used their work to criticize or influence public opinion (Frank 9). The art of our culture reflects who we are, as well as our relationship to our surroundings and to one another. Art can be pleasing and beautiful, but it can also shout us awake and inspire us to action (Frank 11). Neolithic plastered skull. c. 7000 B.C.
Lifesize, Jericho, Archeological Museum,
Amman, Jordan. Architecture, painting, and sculpture have often been used throughout history to project and glorify images of deities and political leaders (Frank 10). Today's politicians are nearly always on view-in news photos, television, posters, and the internet. It is a matter of course that politicians employ spin doctors as imagemakers (Schneider Adams 47). Advertising designers often use the persuasive powers of art to present a version of the truth. We see their messages every day on television and in the media. Not all persuasive art is commercial, however. Art can be an effective instrument for educating, directing popular values, molding public opinion, and gaining and holding political power (Frank 10). The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is very effectively using art to educate the public on emergency preparedness. In October 2011, the CDC published a Zombie Pandemic graphic novella created by fantasy artist Bob Hobbs (layouts,pencils and inks), Alissa Eckert (coloring) and Mark Conner (lettering,assembly). The CDC published this graphic novella as part of their "Zombie Preparedness" campaign-a campaign created to catch the public's attention and then educate the public on how to be prepared in case of any emergency (not just the Zombie Apocalypse). There is a personal preparedness check list at the end of the novella. The graphic novella (left), along with posters (right), can be viewed, downloaded, and printed from the CDC's website (http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/zombies.htm). Companies do not always advertise their items in a direct manner. Sometimes they sell their products by promoting ideals the company stands for. Doing so causes people to see the company in a positive light and make them want to support the company. Sometimes companies will purposely cause a controversy in order to have their name spread throughout the media.

Italian clothing company Benetton promoted both their belief of tolerance and gained themselves a massive media audience when they released their "Unhate" campaign. Benetton, known for their shockvertising, released these controversial photopshopped ads in 2011. According to the Unhate Foundation's website, "The social impact of art projects, developed in close partnership with Fabrica, is at the heart of all the activities of the Foundation."

If world leaders (some the same sex) kissing didn't cause a media frenzy, the fact that the Vatican threatened legal action did. Benetton removed the photo montage of the pop and Ahmed el Tayeb but the president of the New York-based Catholic League said that the damage was done. The photo was already posted on the internet which meant that, even if Benetton officially removed it from the campaign, the photo was still out there to be seen (Hubbard). Between 1810-1820, Francisco Goya made his expression of outrage at the Napoleonic Wars in his country clear and direct. "The Disasters of War" is a series of etching and aquatint prints that vividly documents atrocities committed by Napoleon's troops as they invaded Spain in 1808. Some of the abuses the Goya depicted are still committed today, a grim fact that gives "The Disasters of War" continuing relevance. This series is a landmark of social criticism in art, and still influences artists today (Frank 9). "And they fight like wild beasts" Plate No. 5. Civilians, including women, fight against soldiers with spears and rocks. "They do not want to" Plate No. 9. An elderly woman wields a knife in defense of a young girl who is being assaulted by a soldier. "Bury them and say nothing" Plate No. 18. Atrocities, starvation and human degradation described as the "prodigious flowering of rage." "For a clasp knife" Plate No. 34. A priest tied to a stake grasps a cross in his hands. Pinned to his chest is a description of the crime for which he will be killed—possession of a knife. "He defends himself well" Plate No. 78. The horse appears to be a metaphor for the constitutional monarchy, fighting without help from the wolf-hounds, who perhaps represent anti-monarchical revolution "A heroic feat! With dead men!" Plate No. 39. "The escape among the flames" Plate No. 41 Men and women some carrying each other run into the night, amidst chaos and terror All images and text are taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Disasters_of_War Twentieth century American artist Romare Bearden was fascinated by the pageant of daily life in New York. In this 1971 collage, "Rocket to the Moon," fragments build to a scene of quiet despair and stoic perseverance. A barely visible rocket at the very top heads for the moon, while urban life below remains punctuated by a red stop-light. The artist makes an ironic visual statement, placing America's accomplishments in space alongside the stalled social and economic progress of many urban areas (Frank 7). Sometimes artists create imagery to effect social change. The U.S. Civil Rights Movement came to the fore in the 1960s. In 1969, Faith Ringgold painted "Flag for the moon: Die Niggar." This was a protest against racism as well as against U.S. expenditures on space exploration, which the artist felt would be better spent on social programs. Using painted color, Ringgold protests social discrimination based on skin color. In her flag she superimposed in black letters the word "Die" over the stars and the word "Nigger" in white which alternate with the red stripes of the flag (Schneider Adams 52). In sixteenth-century England, King Henry VIII hired the German artist Hans Holbien (c. 1497-1548) to be his court painter. Famous for marrying six wives, for defying the pope, and transforming England from a Catholic to Protestant nation, Henry wanted his portraits to emphasize his wealth and power. And they did-in particular, Holbein's portrait around 1540 showing Henry in all his finery, upright and self-confident. The king is barely contained in the space of the painting, which accentuates his massive proportions and conveys his commanding presence (Schneider Adams 47). Hans Holbein the Younger.
Henry VIII, c. 1540. Oil on panel.
34 3/4 x 29 1/2 in.
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome. Seventeenth-century Europe was an age of absolute monarchs, who designed their images to reinforce the impression that they had complete control over their subjects. These rulers had their own version of modern spin doctors-called "ministers of culture." Louis XIV of France (ruled 1661-1715) reigned for more than fifty years and the image that he strove to project was that of the sun. As "Le roi soleil" (the Sung King), he danced the role of the sun in court theatricals. Louis performed a public ritual in which he rose from bed in the morning and returned to bed in the evening-rising and setting like the sun. Louis wanted to be thought of as the central, life-giving force of France. Imagine the impression that his palace at Versailles would have made on an ambassador to Louis XIV's court. Having ridden a long way, probably in in a horse-drawn carriage over a dusty, bumpy road, the ambassador would have arrived at Versaille's famous Galarie de Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), where visitors awaited audiences with the king. Scenes of Louis's military victories decorate the ceiling, while gilded wall reliefs and mirrors reflect the sun's light. The mirrors also alluded to the role of the king as the solar eye of the universe, for the they permitted Louis's spies to observe visitors surreptitiously and to identify potential conspirators (Schneider Adams 48). One of the most prevalent political images in Western art is the equestrian portrait, a painting or sculpture showing the ruler on horseback. Philip IV (ruled 1621-1665), the monarch of Spain, was shown in this way by his court painter, Diego Velazquez (1599-1660). Here Philip controls the horse with the levade, a complex maneuver indicating the king's equestrian skill. The king's control of the animal is a metaphor for his control over unruly subjects, while the vast distant landscape signifies the territory Philip controlled. Velazquez was a courtier as well as Philip's court painter, and part of his job was to flatter the king. He did so in the portrait by minimizing Philip's unattractive, jutting jaw (Schneider Adams 49). Diego Velazquez, Philip IV on Horseback, 1629-1630. Oil on canvas, 9 ft. 10 1/2 in. x 10 ft. 5 3/4 in. Prado, Madrid. One popular way artists show a "sense of self" is to do a traditional self portrait. However, there are many other ways to a more nontraditional self-portrait. Korean-American artist Yong Soon Min projects an altogether contemporary sense of self in her mixed-media piece "Dwelling." Born in a small village in Korea just before the end of the Korean war, she and her mother joined her father in California when she was seven. Thus, while she was raised mainly in the United States, it is not her native land; yet on trips back to Korea she feels distant from her country of origin as well.

"Dwelling" expresses alienation and absence. The artist inserted personal mementos into a traditional Korean-style dress and hung it over a pile of books, maps, and photographs. Inside the dress, barely visible is a script from a Korean poet, which gives voice to the loss of identity. The hauntingly empty dress seems to await a Korean occupant who will never put it back on (Frank 6). Yong Soon Min.
Dwelling. 1994.
Mixed media. 72"x42"x28".
Photo by Erik Landsberg. Vincent van Gogh.
Bedroom in Arles. 1889.
Oil on canvas. 740x570 mm. Van Gogh produced three, almost identical paintings on the theme of his bedroom. In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent explained what had provoked him to paint such a picture: he wanted to express the tranquility, and bring out the simplicity of his bedroom using the symbolism of colors. Thus, he described: "the pale, lilac walls, the uneven, faded red of the floor, the chrome-yellow chairs and bed, the pillows and sheet in very pale lime green, the blood-red blanket, the orange-colored wash stand, the blue wash basin, and the green window", stating "I wanted to express absolute repose with these different colors".
Through these various colors, Van Gogh is referring to Japan, to its crêpe paper and its prints. He explained: "The Japanese lived in very simple interiors, and what great artists have lived in that country".

And although, in the eyes of the Japanese, a bedroom decorated with paintings and furniture would not really seem very simple, for Vincent it was "an empty bedroom with a wooden bed and two chairs". All the same he does achieve a certain sparseness through his composition made up almost entirely of straight lines, and through a rigorous combination of colored surfaces, which compensate for the instability of the perspective ("Google Art Project"). Angelica Kauffmann's (1741-1807) "Self-Portrait as 'Colour'" shows her identification with the colors of the rainbow. In this allegory, the painter paints the rainbow, whose arc echoes the frame of the picture, displaying a formal linear unity as well as color harmony. The refracted light of the rainbow becomes color, which recurs elsewhere in the painting-the rich red cloak, the yellow skirt, the muted greens of the foliage, and the blues defining the sky. As the embodiment of Painting, Kauffmann depicts herself in command of nature's color, which is the source of inspiration for the painter's color (Schneider Adams 99). Angelica Kauffmann, Self Portrait as "Colour", 1778-1780. Oil on canvas, 4 ft. 4 in. x 4 ft. 11 in.
Royal Academy of Arts, London 2001. According to an article on cosmopolitan.com, how you wear your hair and/or makeup is the ultimate way of instant personal expression. The article says the following:

Expert research has found that your makeup and mane effects can have an impact on how others perceive you. "We make an assumption about someone within 10 seconds of being introduced," says Oregon State social psychologist Frank Bernieri, Ph.D. "This impression is largely based on his or her looks -- and doesn't change very easily."

The way the model's hair and makeup to the left has been done shows a confident and powerful look. "Makeup and hair messages that indicate maturity make you come across as secure," says Bernieri. Prominent brows, bold lips and hair that's pulled off the face look adult and suggest self-assurance" ("Cosmopolitan" ). In many cultures, royal status is reflected in personal adornment. Archeologists have found elaborate objects of personal adornment in the third-millennium B.C. royal tombs at Ur, in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). This bust of a young woman is wearing a royal headdress and several necklaces, which indicate that she was a queen or a princess. The predominance of gold leaf and lapis lazuli (a semiprecious blue stone) denotes her high status, for in addition to costly materials, gold and lapiz lazuli were endowed in antiquity with cosmological significance-as symbols of the sun and sky, respectively (Schneider Adams 57). Reconstruction of funerary ornaments worn by a royal personage, Early Dynastic Period, 3rd millennium B.C., from the Cemetary at Ur, Iraq Museum, Baghdad. Some artists use art as a means of personal expression through graffiti. Banksy is a pseudonymous England based graffiti artist.

Among his catalog of greatest hits, Banksy has released an inflatable Guanténamo Bay prisoner doll at Disneyland, depicted England's Queen Elizabeth II as a chimpanzee, tagged the West Bank border fence and sneaked his own Mona Lisa — her inscrutable expression replaced by a yellow smiley face — into the Louvre. "He's kind of captured the zeitgeist, [the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history]" says Gareth Williams, a contemporary-art specialist at Bonhams auction house in London. "But he's done it in quite an accessible way, so it speaks to people" (Altman).

This particular work was part of a peace protest outside the Houses of Parliament on May 11, 2006 in London ("Time: Photos"). In the 1960s, the Finnish designer Eero Aarnio created the "ball chair." Such a chair is not only practical, but is also designed as an aesthetic object to enhance the appearance of a room. Aarnio hoped for a future when tradition and modernity would form a new aesthetic-when "the personal approach of the past and the robot manufacture of the future clasp hands" (Schneider Adams 65). The purpose and function of almost any work of art is not definitive. One single piece of work may fall in to many of the categories. The categories themselves are also not definitive-you may be able to think of many more purposes and functions. These six categories are just a good place for us to start. Decorative Panel from the Alhambra.
Granada, Spain. Nasrid Period, 14th Century.
Glazed mosaic tile. 60'x50 5/8".
Museo de la Alhambra. Islamic art often abounds with lavish decorations. For example, this fourteenth-century "Decorative Panel from the Alhambra" is made of colored mosaic tile laid in dazzling patterns. Our eyes follow the pathways that enclose geometric figures of many different shapes, sizes, and colors. These small polygons are elements in a larger rhythm of black starbursts between rows of geometric interlace. The piece shown here is only a small fragment of the lower portion of a wall enclosing a room in the Alhambra, a palace that reached its full glory under the Nasrid rulers of Granada in the fourteenth century (Frank 11). Miriam Schaprio.
Heartland. 1985.
Acrylic, fabric, and glitter on canvas. 85"x94".
Collection of Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, Florida. Gift of the Women for Special Acquisition and the Council of 101, 87.1. Some contemporary artists have achieved impressive decorative effects with very different materials. Miriam Schapiro's "Heartland" depends partly on sheer size for its impact, since it measures nearly seven by eight feet. Here, a rich texture of mixed media calls to mind traditional art forms of quilting and flower arranging, once considered the province of women. Schapiro coined the term "femmages" to describe her pieces, which combine paint, fabric, and glitter in a collage format. The lush colors, bold patterns, and symbolic meanings of the shape of the work combine to create a garden of delight that encompasses our entire field of vision (Frank 11-12). Citations

"Ads Gone Wrong." Designs Gone Wild. n. page. Web. 7 Jan. 2013. <http://www.designgonewild.com/adsgonewrong.php>.

Altman, Alex. "Banksy: An Artist Unmasked." Time Entertainment. 21 Jul 2008: n. page. Web. 12 Jan. 2013.

Fagerstrom, Derek, Lauren Smith, et al. Show Me How: 500 Things You Should Know - Instructions For Life From the Every Day to the Exotic. New York: Collins Design, 2008. 14-15. Print.

Frank, Patrick. Prebles' Artforms. 10th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2011. 2. Print.

Hubbard, Amy. "Shock, anger follow Benetton's controversial kissing ads." Los Angeles Times 17 Nov. 2011, n. pag. Web. 9 Jan. 2013.

Nudd, Tim. "The World's Best Print Ads, 2011-12 All 38 executions from gold-winning Press campaigns at Cannes." Adweek. N.p., 05 2012. Web. 7 Jan 2013.

Schneider Adams, Laurie. The Making and Meaning of Art. 1st ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. 54. Print.

"St Anselm's Altar." Ecclesiart. (2013): n. page. Web. 7 Jan. 2013. <http://acetrust.org/ecclesiart/artworks/st-anselms-altar>.

"The World According to Banksy." Time: Photos. n.d. n. page. Web. 12 Jan. 2013. <http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1678584_1477729,00.html>.

Unhate foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://unhate.benetton.com/foundation/

"Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles." Google Art Project. Google. Web. 12 Jan 2013.

"What Your Look Says About You: Mane and makeup combos that'll send the message you want." Cosmopolitan. n.d. n. page. Web. 12 Jan. 2013. <http://www.cosmopolitan.com/hairstyles-beauty/skin-care-makeup/what-your-look-says-about-you>.
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