Art History

Egyptian Art was truly art with a purpose. Though pretty to look at it was not merely decorative. An example of this is one of the first pieces of Art found in the Predestinates period, Palette of King Mark. This piece was narrative of the joining of upper and Lower Egypt. Its narrative Is not without blabs however as It was a commemorative work commissioned by the King of Upper Egypt. This Is evident In the spatial organization of the piece.

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It shows the King towering over the others and shows his superhuman strength. Commemorative art extended over to architecture also In the temples and tombs built. In the Old Kingdom this took form In the shape of pyramids. A shape dictated by Egyptians religious beliefs. For Egyptians pyramids symbolized the sun’s rays which they believed to be the stairway to heaven. They also believed that the pyramids were where the pharaohs were reborn each day, just as the sun rises and sets each day. Pyramids were shrines to the pharaohs who were considered god-like, and were commissioned to be built by them.

This determined the materials used, and the way the art was done. This time period also brought great sculptures. Statues and drawings of the pharaohs were idealized not realized. To the extent that artists used guides to ensure the uniformity of the form. This method was used for virtually every form of art from statues to hieroglyphics. In making guides for the figure, artists measured using the palm of their hands, and there were standard measurements. I. E. The face was 2 palms, and the shoulders were palms from the baseline. (The Art of Ancient Egypt, Metropolitan Museum of Art p. ) The statues of the pharaohs were also very formal and stiff in posture. As the person’s importance decreases however formality is relaxed and realism increases. This can be seen in the statue of the seated Scribe. In the time period called the Middle Kingdom sculptures took a turn toward realism. While the Kings’ bodies were still idealistic and stiff in posture there was more realism in their facial features. In this period rock cut tombs became popular. Columns were still a prominent feature as were the inside shrine art. The New Kingdom time period was considered Egypt most magnificent.

In architecture Temples were the most fantastic and elaborate creations. These served to worship kings while the rulers who built them were alive and a place for others to honor themselves after their passing. The most awesome of the temples was one built for the female pharaoh Hatchets. The size of these temples alone was enough to stop you In your tracks, but they were also very well planned out and built. Temples were uniform In that they were all built on axial planes with great entryways and massive columns. Of particular significance Is the clerestory which was a new Innovation In architecture.

Columns were also utilized as decorative surfaces adding to the painted surfaces and sculptures throughout the temples. Figures were still proportional according to rank, but old norms were not always followed in representing the figure. The highest ranking were still in composite view, but lower ranking figures were in profile and frontal views. This change constitutes a relaxation of the Old Kingdoms rules of representation. Scenes were still elastic out lateral to an extent, out ended winner symbolic began in referencing their gods and god-like pharaohs.

The period that hook things up in Egypt was the Generation and Marin period. This was due to the Pharaoh Generation’s radical declaration that there were not many gods, but one universal god, the sun god. Though brief, this change in spiritual thinking carried through and affected the art that was made. Contours were more curved and features more realistically represented. Though this period was short lived, for a while some elements carried over to the Post-Raman period as evidenced in the tomb of King Tutankhamen. The themes returned to traditional, but kept the fluidity and realistic features.

In the scroll of Hunger however we can see a complete return to conservatism as evidenced in rigidness of its designs and figures. The first millennium also brought about change for the Egyptians, because they were invaded and occupied by foreign powers. Through foreign rule the traditional forms of Egyptian art remained, and is evident in the portraiture of the time with idealistic shapes and traditional poses. Egyptian architecture also carried on even through Greek rule as seen in the use of columns in Greek architecture. Egyptian art was not only influenced politically and socially it was in many ways dictated by it.

This is seen in the way murals were organized, the ways pharaohs were depicted and the materials were used at times to insure permanence for the afterlife. There were subtle changes to this throughout the time periods, but none as significant as the changes during the rebellion of Contestant. Following this spiritual upheaval art returned to its rigid traditional form. This form of art served the Egyptians so well that it lasted a span of approximately 2500 years. And even long after under foreign rule. Egyptian art is a fascinating period in the development of art and had lasting influence in the art world.

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