This essay will reply to the statement that says art with social or political influences should not be created, as it obscures pure art. Art influenced by these aspects can definitely obscure the purity of art however art that is not pure, still has purpose. This essay will follow the changes through the Neo-Classic, Romantic and Realistic eras proving that art should have no limits, as it can be pure, or created for whichever reasons the artist desires. In this essay we will look at the following artists; David, de Goya and Millet.
Davids (Neo-Classicism), The Death of Marat, 1793, is an oil painting on canvas. This is of Marat lying dead in his bath with a cloth wrapped around his head, he has a desk beside the bath tub, Marat was assassinated, yet this painting portrays just a dribble of blood from his chest. This is is an incredibly naturalistic painting done for political reasons as a tool of propaganda. The composition is still which allows for a calm mood without drama or movement, this helps the viewer to interpret Marat as a peaceful good man, this helps the aim of propaganda. Marat is static and portrays no emotion allowing people to see him as a strong man, he also suffers from a rare skin disease, the artist decides to paint him without this disease making him appear pure. The focal point is Marat as the background is empty and dull with limited depth, leading our eyes to Marat as light shines from above onto his page bright skin. This light makes him seem angelic and gives the viewer the impression that he is going to heaven. Marat has several features including the halo like turban and his ‘Pieta’ like arm which all make him resemble Jesus and tells us he is a martyr, someone who dies for their beliefs. All these factors add to this artworks political purpose as a propaganda tool.
Friedrichs (Romanticism), Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1822, is an oil painting on canvas, this is a man standing on the edge of a cliff looking beyond over a fog filled area. This is a perfect example of pure art as it is not influenced by anything biased, and is simply the artist portraying the world around him as he sees it. The composition is dramatic and filled with movement, created by diagonal lines, this automatically brings feelings into the artwork. The composition is also balanced in the shape of a triangle, this tells us the subject matter is calm and content. There was emphasis on the colours and brushstrokes in reaction to naturalistic perfect Neo Classic art. Colours in this artwork were changed to create a dram-like or visionary mood, these colours are rich and resembles the persons feelings. The brushstrokes were done in painterly style to allow Friedrichs to be emotionally involved in his artwork. By placing the subjects back towards the viewer the artist allows the views to view the world through the eyes of the subject matter (being the man). This painting portrays the world the way Friedrich sees it, with no external, political or social influences.
Millets (Realism), The Gleaners, 1857, is an oil painting on canvas depicting three peasant women gleaning the last wheat scraps after the harvest. Millets choice of subject matter tells us he wanted to depict the hard conditions of the poor society, he would paint the people who had the jobs that were hard and earned low wages. The Gleaners portrayed the tough side of life for the low class labourers. This painting is 84cm X 112cm, Millet did this so that he would give the peasants some importance. Big canvases were used for important things or people, he painted peasants on such a large scale so that people would finally notice the peasants. The shapes were clearly defined allowing for no confusion. Colours are dull but natural and earthy, these colours created tell as that what is portrayed is what is real, that is the real world and there is no covering up what is happening. The composition had movement and different focal points great and on going busy situation within the artwork. The tone is varied, higher contrasting chiaroscuro to create focal points on the three working ladies, the background consists of only subtle mid tons no high contrasts, this helps to draw the viewers eyes to the peasant ladies. all these aspects make the ladies seem more important. This artwork is pure, as it has no external influences, however it also has a social purpose to make people aware of the hardline for the less privileged.