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Western Art and Culture, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Western art and culture are often compared and most of the times even opposed to the culture and art of the East. However, despite of all the differences that distinguish one kind of art from the other so evidently, that even a person who does not have vast knowledge in the sphere of art, can easily differ the western artwork from the eastern one, quite a considerable number of similarities still exists. What is more, the cultures from the different parts of the world always interacted. Therefore, in this essay two kinds of art that are going to be compared in the context of their cultures are the art of the Buddhist Japan, dating back to the early sixth and seventh centuries and the art of the Classical Period of Ancient Greece that comprises early fifth and fourth centuries BCE.

After the establishment of Buddhism Japanese art was characterized by the domination of religious motifs. Sculptors started to represent the figure of Buddha and bodhisattvas in their works. One of the earliest examples of the sculpture of this period is the work of Tori Busshi – a bronze Buddha triad dating back to the year 632. Tori Busshi is known to be a descendant of a Chinese immigrant; therefore his work represents a lot of features that were significant for the style common in the art of the sixth-century China – such as elongated heads of figures. China actually made a great influence on Japanese art due to the cultural and political relations between two countries. As depiction of human body was one of the major tasks of the Japanese sculptors of that period (for the main figure of the religion prevailing in the region – Buddha – was depicted as a man) – one may observe how the sculptors were improving their skills and technique, creating the style that was characterized by the shift towards more natural and realistic depiction of human figures. The example of that can be the observed when one looks at the Yakushi Triad, where the sculptor “favored greater anatomical definition and shape-revealing drapery” (Kleiner, 212).  Indeed, at this stage stylization of Tori Busshi gives place to the more precise and detailed technique of other sculptors.

Ancient Greek sculptors are especially famous for the monumental bronze statues of the classical period. The process of the creation of such statues was long and difficult, including several tiresome stages: the statues had to be cast in parts and the full-size clay model had to be made first. Bronze statues themselves were costly to make. However, the result of this process was worth all the efforts the sculptors had to make – for the bronze statues of the classical period were especially prominent for the highest levels of mastery the ancient sculptors had reached. Greek monumental bronze statues are well-known and admired for the extreme realism both in proportions and posture. The statues representing the Classical Period of ancient Greece are actually recognized for the balance and naturalism that replaced the stiff poses of the statues belonging to the Archaic period. One of the most famous sculptors of that time was Polykleitos who is often referred to as one of the creators of the sculpture of Classical period, for he was actually the first sculptor who used mathematical proportions and scale so that he would be able to make a perfectly proportioned figure of a human. Warriors and Gods were the main subjects of depiction for the sculptors of the Ancient Greece. A well known example is the statue of the Artemisone Zeus. The perfectly proportioned figure of the bearded god truly deserves to be admired for the naturalness of the pose and body the sculptor living more than two thousands and five hundred years ago managed to achieve.

All in all, comparing the Japanese sculpture of the period of Buddhism and the Greek sculpture of the Classical Period one may observe one common tendency of shifting towards realism and naturalness and the attempts of the sculptors to make their creations as lifelike as possible. The time gap between the two periods only helps to see the similar paths that the minds of the artists belonging to completely different cultures followed clearer and thus one more time make sure that men all over the globe often show similar ways of thinking and perceiving the reality. The attempts of visualizing the image of the Gods, making him to look as close to a human and as natural as possible can be observed in both cultures: Greek and Japanese. Though some differences still remain: for example the poses that the sculptors chose for their objects. Buddha is mostly depicted sitting in typically eastern manner, while Greek gods were depicted standing, often in the middle of some motion. Thus, the desire of concentrating attention on the figure of a human, even when gods were the subjects of depiction, seems to be common for people belonging to different cultures in different periods. It is common for the current culture too – for the interest to the phenomenon of a human and to different aspects of human’s life seems to never fade away.

To sum up, the topic of discussion in this work were similarities and differences between the ancient Greek sculpture representing the Classical Period and the Japanese sculpture of the period right after the establishment of Buddhism. As a result one may conclude that the western art in many aspects may prove to have more similarities with the eastern art than it could have seemed from the first sight.

Works Cited

Kleiner, Fred. Gardner’s Art Throughout the Ages: a Global History. Boston, MA: Thomson Higher Education, 2009, Print.

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