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Pte 70 Score Essay on “”The Arts Speak not only to us but about us”, Discuss.

“The Arts Speak not only to us but about us”, Discuss.


The instinct to produce an art-form is just one of a series of factors which differentiate us from the animal world. It dates back at least as far as the cave-dwellers of pre-history who produced wall drawings which possess both artistic ability and emotional power.

Hunting is the main theme of these, but the situations depicted between man and beast are those of stress and danger. Were these drawings meant to exert a cathartic effect on man’s natural fear by giving him a constant reminder of the worst he would have to face?

Throughout recorded history, painting has fulfilled this dual role. Subject-matter, depicted in tempera, fresco, oil and color wash, has reflected every facet of human life and activity and of the natural world. In most periods, there seems to have been cultural freedom, but not in an.

Fashion, convention and religious pressures have dictated both subject-matter and treatment in certain periods. The various European schools of the Middle Ages, with the exception of the Dutch and Flemish, largely confined themselves to religious and mythological subjects. These paintings were gifted but stylized.

Following the Reformation, these constraints disappeared, and subject-matter broadened, though favorable portraiture of the aristocracy, who patronized prominent painters, has continued until modern times. Turner was the catalyst in shifting from the constraints of objectivity to the freedom of subjectivity.

His work inspired the Impressionists, who painted according to their own often subconscious reactions to the subject-matter. This freedom allowed as much to be read into the character and outlook of the painter as into what appeared on the canvas.

Much the same may be said about sculpture. All the ancient civilizations have left examples, mostly by unknown artists, in stone, wood and metal, usually bronze. Until fairly recent times, European sculpture followed the traditions of classical Greece and Rome and of renaissance Italy. Much of it concentrated on the beauty and grace of the human form, both male and female, on athletes, on prominent figures, and on political, mythological and military groupings. While representational sculpture has always reflected contemporary fashion and taste in choice of subject-matter, the same cannot be said of much modern sculpture.

As in some schools of painting, much modern sculpture is abstract in concept. It may be titled, but the interpretation is left to the individual viewer. Epstein and Henry Moore were prominent exponents of this school. It says little to most of us, and virtually nothing about us. Today’s more extreme exponents are equally inscrutable.

Modern architecture provides a variation on the same theme. This is due to the availability of new materials; reinforced concrete, plastics and other synthetics. Such materials allow the construction of tower blocks and offices, since the old limitations imposed by weight at each floor level no longer apply. So since Gropius and Le Corbusier, architects have given themselves a free hand. Opinion is sharply divided as to their success. Many examples are functional, but the architects’ fallacy has been to ignore two things : human reaction against user-unfriendliness, and compatibility with surroundings. In both contexts, much modern architecture fails dismally.

It succeeds only where it replaces nothing of value, or where space is severely restricted, as in Hong Kong. In many countries which have a civilization spanning the centuries, consistency in design and use of materials has provided buildings which go well together, and fit into their natural backgrounds. Theatre, music and dancing all provide excellent examples of the truth of the topic-statement.

The classical theatre of the Far East offers the Westerner great interest, since it speaks of a totally unfamiliar world and gives fascinating character insights. Western theatre offers three genres, all of them expressive of their periods the classical, typified by Shakespeare and a host of others down to Edwardian times, the drama, concerned exclusively with the doings of British upper and middle classes, and the modern theatre, which is largely working-class based.

It goes without saying that music speaks most eloquently to -our emotions. Yet it also reflects the mores and tastes of the periods in which it was composed. J. S. Bach reflects the love of form, shape and dignity of the pre-Romantic period; many others, notably the later Beethoven and composers such as Liszt and Chopin, the freedoms of Romanticism, echoed in the poets of the period — Wordsworth, Shelley, Tennyson and Byron.

Much more could be written about prose and poetry — even the dance — on the same theme, but the case seems to be proved! The arts not only speak to our emotions, they also reflect our lives.


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