Medieval art comprises a vast array of genres of art that were dominant during the medieval times. Most of the medieval art is from Europe, but there are also traces of similar artistic developments in the same period in Asia and North Africa (Benton, 23). The medieval period saw art develop through different times or movements as a result of various influences that inspired the artists of the time. Therefore, historians often find it difficult to categorize and classify medieval art into one blanket term due to the varied nature of the art products during the medieval times. Nevertheless, medieval art is understood to cover many art movements including Early Christian art, Migration Period art, insular art, Byzantine art, Romanesque art, Pre-Romanesque, and Gothic art (Benton, 26). Besides, each region in Europe that had undergone significant civilization had developed its forms of art that were distinguishable from genres of art from other areas. For instance, there were significant differences between Anglo-Saxon art and Norse art. Moreover, medieval art was also produced across many different media including sculpture, metalwork, stained glass, and illuminated manuscripts (Benton, 28). Most of these varied forms of art media survived from ancient times to date and are stored in some of the worlds leading art galleries and exhibition centers.
There are several characteristics and qualities that distinguish medieval art from other forms of art developed in different periods. For example, medieval art is mostly noted for its use of vivid color. Different colors were used to imply different emotions through art. Also, art in the medieval times was also notable for its portrayal of the main figure in an artwork. The main figures of focus always stood out from the rest of items in a drawing or painting. They appear to be bigger that other items on the image. Also, medieval art was mainly created for use in churches and religious institutions. As such, art was mainly viewed as a way of promoting Gods glory rather than for any secular purposes. Therefore, most of the art produced in this period covers religious themes such as showing the Holy Family, early saints, and church buildings (Benton, 33). Also, some paintings and sculptures also showed scenes of war to reflect some of the political developments between different communities in ancient times. A majority of the artists during the medieval times were priests and monks from different monasteries. Therefore, art was n mostly considered to be a gift from God, which ad to be used for the glorification of God and promote godly things.
Nevertheless, one striking quality that distinguished medieval art from other forms of genres of art is the relationship between art and wealth and power. Wealth and power represent some of the factors that influence classism and social interaction in then society. Wealthy individuals and those with the greatest power or authority often make up the elitist classes in the society, which stand out as the most sophisticated social groups. On the other hand, the poor and the less powerful comprise of the majority of the populations (Benton, 38). The manner in which the wealth people perceive art is very different from the exception of the poor and the less powerful. As such, wealth and power have so much influence on the development of art in the medieval or the ancient period. Consequently, the rich and the most influential people in the society wielded more and authority towards the development of art in terms of dictating the style and content of paintings and drawings produced (Nees, 39). The impact of wealth and power on the development of medieval art can be understood from various perspectives as discussed in the sections below.
The first aspect when examining the relationship between art and wealth or power in the medieval times is commissioning. Commissioning refers to a process where a wealthy person in the society initiates a process of developing art by offering the artist an idea of the painting, drawing or sculpture and paying for it. The individuals ordering for artworks to be developed are known as patrons. The patrons were particularly influential in the development of medieval artworks because they owned the art galleries and exhibition centers as well as owning certain pieces of art in their homes and premises (Benton, 41). During the commissioning process, the artists would get into an agreement with the patron over the development of the artwork. For example, the contractual agreement would stipulate issues such as the nature of the artwork, the materials that would be used, the subject or content of the art piece, the payment terms, and the duration that it would take to complete the work.
This implies that in the medieval times, the individuals who owned artworks were only the wealthy and powerful people. As such, wealth and power influenced the relationship between artists and the patrons. For instance, artistic freedom was greatly inhibited in the ancient times because the artists were only limited to following the instructions of their patrons. On some circumstances, the patrons asked to be included in the paintings (Nees, 44). In this case, the patrons would be referred to as the donors. This also explains why most of the ancient images and paintings contain both religious figures such as saints and the Holy family and other noblemen in the society at the time. Nevertheless, besides limiting the freedom of the artists, commissioning was a very good way of acknowledging and appreciating the works of different artists. The most skilled artists earned a lot of money of her at skills through commissioning. For example, artists would not have to worry about making drawings and paintings that would not be bought by the public as they were paid for each of their art pieces by their patrons. Therefore, the artists were effectively rewarded for their efforts in creating and developing art.
Secondly, the relationship between art and wealth or power can also be comprehended through evaluating the status of the artist in the society during the medieval and ancient times. In the middle ages, artists were considered as skilled laborers or individuals who worked with their hands to offer their professional services. As such, they were mostly referred to as craftsmen of artisans, hence, occupying a lesser social position in comparison with other professionals such as the philosophers, thinkers, and innovators (Nees, 39). It is appalling how the position or place of the artists in the society was viewed as less important yet their work was appreciated and followed after by the wealthy and the most powerful individuals. For the most of the medieval period, artists fiercely fought against this perception by demanding to be recognized as highly skilled individuals alongside innovators and thinkers. However, it wasnt until the Renaissance that the status of the artists I the society changed with artists such as Pablo Picasso becoming icons in the society.
In this regard, wealth and power determined how people viewed artists in the society. The wealth looked down upon artists while they valued the products of the artists themselves. This is because the artistry was viewed as an inherent trait rather than a valuable skill that was taught in schools. Most artists acquired the art by learning through apprenticeship (Nees, 52). On the other hand, the wealthy people acquired their wealth and power after lots of hard work and going through the education system at the time to get the sophistication associated with their class.
Thirdly, production of art was very expensive during the middle ages. Production of quality artwork often took a lot of resources and time. Consequently, the resulting art pieces were also very expensive. As such, the many artists could not even sustain their profession and had to rely on the wealth citizens in order to practice their art. This is because most of the artists were poor people in the society who did not have enough resources to develop high-quality pieces of art (Sekules, 48). Production of quality art products entailed acquiring expensive colors and other materials that were owned by some of the wealthiest people in the society at the time. Therefore, artists had to rely on their patrons to be able to produce quality products. More often, artists would love in seclusion for long periods while developing their artworks . Furthermore, some of the best arts were developed after longer periods of time depending on the availability of the resources required as well as the inspiration of the artist. Therefore, wealth and power were very influential in determining the direction of art in the society during the medieval times.
Conversely, wealth and power also had an influence on assessing the value of art products in the ancient times. For example, most of the valuable art pieces at the time incorporated valuable materials such as gold and silver. Furthermore, creating the colors to complement these materials was a very challenging and expensive process. For instance, creating a blue color involved extracting some components from the Lapis Lazuli, a very rare and precious stone (Binski, George, and William, 57). Therefore, art items that had such colors and expensive materials were considered more valuable in comparison to products that used cheaper materials. These expensive materials were either incorporated in the artwork to reflect the wealth of the patron commissioning the artwork or for religious devotions. Nevertheless, the concept of the value of art was very different. The value of art was mainly determined by the materials used in the production of the artwork rather than on the technique and skill that was used to develop the art. This is a complete contrast to the contemporary situation where the value of the art is based on the skill of the artist as opposed to the content and materials used (Sekules, 61). A simple artwork on a paper can be considered more valuable than a big artwork on a large billboard, but which lacks the technic and skill associated with the art.
Before the emergence of modern styles of art, artistic products were based on conventional production techniques that dictated the materials, colors and, styles hat artists could use. For instance, sculptures were mainly done in bronze, wood or stone while fine at was done in oils. On the other hand, emerging art styles such as pop art brought the idea that art can be produced from anything that is used in the everyday lives of people (Binski, George, and William, 63). For instance, one could produce art from scrap materials taken from items such as used utensils and furniture. With the advent of pop culture, art became very appreciated regardless of how trivial it was. There was more emphasis on the creativity of the artist rather than adherence to conventions on how art ought to be done.
Pop art emerged as a relatively simple form of art that was appealing to the general public, who could relate to the images, collages, and sculptures produced by different artists and device their own meanings and interpretations. Therefore, with pop art, it was easier for one to relate to an art product and device his or her own meaning. As such, art became subjective, as opposed to the previous art forms that had to be criticized based on objective realities of what the elitist groups expected of specific artists (Binski, George, and William, 72). This concept was very vital in the development of the postmodern thought in the later years as it allowed artists to be more open-minded, willing to accept new ideas, and disregard any notions of objective realities and laws of reason that they needed to subscribe to.
Unlike other forms of art in modernism, pop art was based on ideas and concepts that people could relate w...
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