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Art in Daily Life, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 772

Essay

Part I:

The Biltmore Estate is one of the most well known examples of architecture in the Western Carolina and Blue Ridge Mountain region. Constructed between 1889 and 1895, the work has become one of America’s most beloved architectural achievements, representing an example of the so-called Chateauesque style, which is based upon architecture of the French renaissance. The Biltmore Estate is thus a version of the French country estate chateau, although with its own unique American character.

Insofar as “the fundamental issue in determining whether a given architectural work can be labeled »art« is the interplay of form and function” (Janaro & Altshuler, 1996, p. 162),  it can be said that the Biltmore Estate satisfactorily achieves this very requirement. In its grandiose French-inspired style, the Biltmore Estate functions as a certain anomaly within the American landscape, as though it were transported directly from Europe. The Biltmore estate is thus an explicit commitment to form, since it directly responds to the remark: “this form is what I consider beautiful, and I offer it for your use and your aesthetic pleasure.” (Janaro & Altshuler, 1996, p. 162) The French chateau is deemed, in this regard, as a paradigm of beauty, and the Biltmore Estate follows this basic influence. Yet when considering its country location, this aesthetic blends in perfectly with the West Carolina region, arguably complimenting the natural landscape of the area. The estate exists amongst 125,000 acres of forest, gardens and park, such that it truly takes on the appearance of a grand chateau and estate. Its form is therefore not jarring with this landscape, and rather gives the impression simultaneously of a home, thus combining a warmth and a definitive style in its form.

This homely character of the estate concomitantly lives up to the characteristic of function. The estate was not merely a testimony to a certain form of architecture, but it is clear that the notion of habitation was crucial to its composition. The estate, despite its grandeur, still appears habitable, as its great open windows on the building’s front suggest an attention to light and openness. At the same time, it does bear a quality of mythical royalty to its design, arguably what has made it so enduring: it blends an aura of fantasy with its natural surroundings so as to achieve an ideal unity of form and function.

Part II:

The piece »Jonah« by the American artist Ed Weaver, located in the Wickwire Art Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, is an example of the diverse forms the medium of painting can take in its historical evolution. The work, which is described as a folk art in fresco, bears a certain primitive quality to its presentation of the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale. In this regard, the work could be considered a form of abstract art, insofar as the latter is defined as follows: “art that takes from reality only what the artist wants or that renders a visual depiction of concepts in the artist’s mind.” (Janaro & Altschuler, 1996, p. 168) The primitive sticks figures resemble a work of children’s art more than a professional work. Yet it is precisely this minimalism that makes the painting so striking. The biblical narrative of Jonah is a primal image and it can be said that Weaver portrays the story in equal primal forms. The explicit writing of the word JONAH underneath the figure of the whale makes clear the allusions that the painting had made, and is arguably necessary so as to make sure there is no ambiguity in regards to the thematic.

Weaver’s application of paint to plaster, in concert with fresco artwork, aims at a rough and unrefined technique, yet one that faithfully transmits the mythical quality of the work. The bleak stick figure outlines of humans suggest images of the unconscious with its incomplete and anti-realist forms. This corresponds with the overall primitivism of the work and its theme of an ancient narrative. At the same time, Weaver does not wish to make a traditional or classical work of art. These classical works of art can be understood as “artists experimenting with more lifelike representations of the human form.”  (Janaro & Altschuler, 1996, p. 128) Weaver wishes to use a primitive non-lifelike form that shows a playful commitment to the various possibilities of art, and thus does not attempt to depict the lifelike, but rather to show both the diversity of life itself and the diversity of ways in how it may be portrayed.

 

Works Cited

Janaro, R.P. & Altshuler, T.C: (1996). The Art of Being Human: The Humanities as a Technique for Living. New York: Pearson Education.

Weaver, Ed. (2011). “Jonah.” http://www.wickwiregallery.com/original-paintings/jonah

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