Friday, October 21, 2011

Essay #2B Completeness and truth

Essay #2B:Completeness and Truth
How is it possible that what the egyptians considered "completeness",could be misinterpreted as crude,naive,or unrealistic and how does it affect the "truth" contained in their art?
                Part One: Summary:I experienced many similar facts while researching ancient egypt, but the facts are not what you,as the reader,are looking for in this piece. I had to take in the symbolism,ideology,and proverb,and blend it evenly with common knowledge of mankind,Artwork and design. It all comes down to,"C'mon,people, get the big picture." I kept thinking to myself "Who would criticize this work??"
Reason:I believe the reason this question was asked of us would be because ancient Egypt is a very important part of art history,influencing almost countless cultures including Greek, Roman, and African. Art History ALSO happens to be the name of this particular course. What a coincidence!
Purpose: Similar to Ancient egyptian art, this question had a higher purpose intended for it. This was to REALLY get a grasp on these ancient people's outlook on life, how their artwork represented this, and the way that their convention worked and lasted.It's the comprehension of knowlege and insight that I believe you are seeking.
Direction:During my research I found myself more completely understanding Egyptian Ideals,and design tactics. Thus, I approached with a newer respect and perspectives.
Impressions:I've known since elementary school that the Egyptians used symbols to communicate thoughts and happenings, and of course built pyramids. But looking at the bigger picture, everything that they created was devout, fantastic art that represented things deeper than the eyes alone can see.

Part 2:
      If you look at works of the Ancient Egyptians, in a literal sense, just LOOK at it and seek no knowledge further than plain appearance, You will not be able to comprehend it for all it is and stands for. Yeah, it’s big and magnificent, and yes, it’s pretty and fancy. Or you may think,"These cartoons and symbols make no sense to me..." But why?  In order to understand Egyptian art, you must also comprehend the timeless style and reflection of culture as well. When in observation of any art or artistic creation, ancient or contemporary, One will eventually find themselves asking the question that defines life: WHY?(Referring to notes and discussions)among all the possibilities and theories, misconceptions and opinions will of course be made. It is what it is, History and artwork in one. Ancient art that, being art, is still always open for interpretation.         

                One could,perhaps, argue that the styling and representation of figures done by the Ancient Egyptians was simplistic or childlike. I believe, on the contrary, that the work seems perfectly balanced for all it truly had to say. Also, the attention to detail of their sculpture/jewelry/furniture is undoubtedly present,while the paintings are more simplistic. The reason being, is the purpose of the paintings themselves. These scenes were not "fairy tales", or "decoration,"on contrary to popular belief. They were of utter importance to the Egyptians, depictions of physical and spiritual happenings that they firmly believed in.
               Form, from what I've learned, Usually follows function. The messages had to reach not only the upper class,but the not-so-literate masses as well. How do you reach someone who cannot read? draw them a picture! A bit simple but practical, is it not? Now everybody can know that the tomb they are in is going to leave them cursed. No matter the artistic style of it all, the paintings and carved scenes fulfilled their purpose of documenting the happenings and greatness of the Ancient rulers on their path to godliness(class reference).
                  While researching The Ancient Egyptians, I learned about a set of conventions that was used for their art; a set of  calculated guidelines to follow regarding text and image that was extremely effective in my eyes. The Egyptians had a uniform way to depict and space things in their artwork, all elements being significant. (Art history,P.53)With so many things to document, it was the wisest choice they could have made design-wise.The conventions used(such as proportion and spacing) helped to translate ideas more effectively. For example, the sizes of a figure signified their importance and even shoewear and stance effected the meaning of a scene.(Art history, P.52)
Another example;"The lotus was commonly used in art as a symbol of Upper Egypt. It was often shown with its long stems intertwined with papyrus reeds (a symbol of Lower Egypt) as a representation of the unification of the two lands."(
Egyptian cup from approximately 800 BC

A painted carving found in the corridor of Tutankhamun's tomb shows the head of a young boy in a representation of the infant sun god, Nefertem, arising from the blue lotus which, itself, grew out of the primordial ocean."(1332-1322 BCE)Photo credit:
                  The characteristic simple, yet accurate  style used by the ancient Egyptian artists inspires and intrigues both artists and historians even to the present day. The symmetry and representation of physical characteristics has adhered to countless cultures that the Egyptians came in contact with, where it eventually evolved and gained different attributes.(reference to class notes and discussion)A good example of this style’s appearance in other cultures is this greek vase.
(Early greek painting,800 BCE)
Photo courtesy of

                “In Their world-view, the movements of heavenly bodies, the workings of gods,and the humblest of human activities were all believed to be part of a balanced and harmonious grand design.” (Art History, p.50) The common goal for Egyptians was keeping a balance in every aspect of life.  Their balance was found in the completeness of all things in this world and the next. In reference to class notes and discussion, they sought to mesh together this life with the afterlife seamlessly. The egyptians were an extremely devout, orderly and communal people, and this they expressed through their art and architecture(which is art in itself). Overall, it seems their society worked like a machine-everyday life was systematic like their art. Everybody had their place in the social hierarchy, that’s how it was and the way that got things done. Temples had to be built, priests had to attend to them, and everybody’s goal and focus was on the ruler’s transcention and pleasing the gods. They appreciated blessings given to them from nature,so they paid homage in form of offerings and tribute. From The vigilant work of the pyramids to the intricacy of jewelry and amulets, all was done with mostly Devine purpose and a sense of mysticism. The pyramids rose up closer to the sun, connecting the earth further to the sky. Meanwhile, Sphinx were the Giant eloquent guardians. However, if you look at these glorious structures with no concept of what they really are, they remain just ancient buildings in the desert.
                                                                   (Pyramids of Giza)
Photo credit:(

                   Some claim that the ancient Egyptian style of figure is crude,but this is a matter of opinion. This was a culture that “favoured order and form over creativity and artistic expression.” ( Their main focus was on the bigger picture, however, and that dominated over the importance of beauty and detail. In each picture,every symbol and line had a reason to be,a story each their own. Although,It is hard to argue that detail was overlooked considering the deep symbolism and history within each character and picture. They were concerned with the pictures as a whole; balanced and complete. Although simple in form, it was the function that was relevant.
The ancient Egyptians proved to be ahead of their time, their Philosophies and tales living on long after the entire civilization.The legacy they’ve left behind makes them what they sought to be- immortal.