About this sample
About this sample
2 pages /
2 pages /
In the works "The Book of the Dead of Hunefer," and "Achilles and Ajax playing dice," both artists display the cultural norms of their respective cultures through religious, spiritual, and mythological depictions of characters in their societies. For Osiris, the artist of "The Book of the Dead of Hunefer," an illustration of the common funerary rituals of Ancient Egypt depicts what happens after a person dies. This work walks the viewer through the lens of the Ancient Egyptian citizen giving offerings to the king, who has passed away. This work was used as an instructional guide on how to get to a positive side of the afterlife. As the spirit of the deceased passed through the temple given to him, he would see this scripted on the wall and understand how to make it to the next life.
The artists of both works are trying to convey a message to their viewers, even though the time period in which they worked differ. For "The Book of the Dead of Hunefer," the message is instructional. For a viewer of "Achilles and Ajax playing dice," the message to its viewer is to tell the myth of the characters portrayed in the work. Each work has a specific objective, and although it may seem obvious, the viewer must work to understand the meaning of the work. As seen in "The Book of the Dead of Hunefer," the details of the work can complicate what the viewer takes from the work after viewing it. The work has detailed steps that could easily be confused. In "Achilles and Ajax playing dice," one might speculate that the pair are friends, and others might say they are enemies. The nature of the game can be interpreted; some might say it to be one game, and others another.
Besides a message, the composition of a piece can bring it great success, or dismal failure. There is not a distinct equation on how to make a successful piece of art, but there are certainly aspects that could feasibly make it better. Among many variables that go into making a successful painting/sculpture, such as line, color, space, and scale, line plays the most important role in both of these works, affecting not only the path on which the viewer looks, but on the complete outlook of the work. In "The Book of the Dead of Hunefer," line guides the viewer along the instructional path to the afterlife. The painting moves in a horizontal fashion, giving it flow and grace. The way in which the viewer's eye moves can make or break the overall feelings towards the piece. If this work were to be scattered in, let's say, an uneven oval, the piece would not work. Because the subjects of the painting have similar structure, posture, and purpose, the piece flows together, making viewing it easier. In Exekias' work, line and also plays an important role. The spears that rest upon the shoulders of Achilles and Ajax and positioned in a manor that makes the subject of the piece clear. The table upon which they are playing their dice game is flanked by the spears and is also trapped by the intense gazes of both Achilles and Ajax. While there is not an obvious line from the eyes of Achilles and Ajax, they do, in fact, make an indirect line, causing the viewer to look where the characters are looking.
Again, there is not an absolute equation for success in art, but color, along with several other aspects, in both pieces, is another component that affects the viewer's view of the work overall. Color gives light to the imagination. Color can inspire thoughts that would not have sprouted if the work were in black and white. Thinking about the piece after viewing it is easier if it is colorful. The depictions are far more vivid, sending newer ideas and purpose to the seemingly simple and basic composition of these works.
The impact that both pieces have also depends on the material and size. The Ancient Egyptian tomb-dwelling painting stands a little taller than 15" while the Greek vase is 2'. If either one of these pieces were taller, the image would have a different significance to those who viewed it. Typically, works of this stature were more intimate, and while they may have been seen by the public, they were not necessarily used like a statue or painting standing six feet tall might have been used. The pieces are similar in that they are smaller, with intricate detail only seen from up close. From the inscriptions to the smallest patterns, these pieces need to be closely examined in order to get the full effect.
The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks differed culturally, but in their artwork, there were many similarities. Art has been used, and is continuing to be used, as an outlet for cultural and personal gain and loss. It can be used as self-expression, both with personal matters, and even political matters. These two societies paved the way for art, and even though they differ visually, the message is surprisingly similar. Through art, one can become human by diving into new cultures, and although the artists were not thinking about this at the time, artists continue to record the times through their own self-expression.
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