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The renowned German Renaissance artist, Albrecht Durer, utilized artistic innovation to provide insight into the familiar story of Adam and Eve. The engraved artwork creates a departure from the Biblical understanding as Adam and Eve stand together in a forest that is distinctly German (Hart, 2017). The picture focuses on the Renaissance and Germany. The poses of Adam and Eve depict Durer's deep knowledge concerning classical proportions. Further, the animals that stand about or walk through in the artwork demonstrate different symbolic meanings (Hart, 2017). For instance, the ox, elk, cat, and rabbit provides an inner understanding of human personality types. Also, Durer's artwork signifies a sense of perfection and serenity in the garden especially when human figures have not shown any state of disequilibrium (Hart, 2017).
The Founding of Tenochtitlan, from Codex Mendoza, Aztec, 1545
The artwork is replete of information relating to the Aztecs together with their empire. The Codex provides a better understanding of the foundation and organization of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan (Bleichmar, 2019). Moreover, the frontispiece demonstrates the origin of the city, where the artwork highlights the schematic diagram which intersects Tenochtitlan into four parts with blue-green diagonals. The eagle and the cactus corroborate narrative that is premised on the foundation of the city (Bleichmar, 2019). Additionally, cactus in the artwork symbolizes the name Tenochtitlan. The Nahuatl used the term nochtli to refer to the prickly pear cactus, and the symbol is used in today's Mexican flag to depict the Mexican capital's mythic origins (Bleichmar, 2019). Further, the war shield that lies in the middle of the artwork demonstrates the fact Mexica's settlement was not punctuated with tranquility in the Valley of Mexico. More importantly, maize and other types of plants punctuate Tenochtitlan's four quadrants, which demonstrate its agricultural fertility.
The Hip Pendant Representing an Iyoba ("Queen's Mother"), Nigeria, 1550 CE
The pendant mask was developed by Esigie to honor his mother during the early sixteenth century. Naturalistic features were used to model the face that highlighted the oval shape of the human head (Kaplan, 1993). Also, four scarifications marks were carved on the face to indicate her gender as the number was largely associated with females. Understandably embedment of iron inlays in her pupils showed her inner strength and, and more particularly her authoritativeness. More critically, ivory demonstrated a symbolic and material value in Benin culture, and it was associated with ritual purity notably because of its white color (Kaplan, 1993). Equally important, ivory is associated with Olokun, who is regarded as the source of fertility and wealth.
Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold, 1988
The artwork demonstrates a family having their time outdoors on the "tar beach" within their apartment. In the middle of the image, clothes are shown drying on the clothesline, and Cassie together with the younger brother is depicted to be resting on the blanket (Ringgold, 1991). More significantly, the background highlights the New York City skyline, and Cassie is shown flying above the George Washington Bridge (Ringgold, 1991). Ringgold created a garden-like border through the use of color and floral motif. Also, the decorative colors created a sense of familial understanding and warmth. Further, the adoption of folk techniques in the artwork illustrates that the experience is expressed much freely.
The artwork of Adam and Eve by Albrecht Durer provided an outlook of the Renaissance. Also, the artwork was used to illuminate the perfection that characterized human figures before their fall. More importantly, Durer's work demonstrates cultural concerns premised on German identity (Hart, 2017). On the other hand, The Founding of Tenochtitlan was intended to provide a deeper understanding of the universe's organization, where its division into four parts depicted the four cardinal directions, that is, north, east, south, and west (Bleichmar, 2019). More critically, the features that were used in the artwork such as the eagle and the cactus provided in-depth knowledge of the establishment of the city. Further, the structure above the eagle is used to provide a historical aspect of Templo Mayor. Additionally, the artwork was used to emphasize the Aztec's military power, and this was depicted by two soldiers embedded in the hierarchic scale (Bleichmar, 2019). The artwork is important as it displays the historical undertones of the people within the city of Tenochtitlan and their political leadership that defined their identity. Conversely, Durer's artwork was vital for the people during that time as it demonstrated the German heritage and naturalism that highlighted the interior harmony of the human figures in the artwork (Hart, 2017).
The Hip Pendant Representing an Iyoba was used to demonstrate the political aspect of the Oba, where the authoritative nature of the leader is depicted by the iron inlays put in the rims of the eyes (Kaplan, 1993). The use of stylized mudfish was intended to provide the dual nature of human and divine that is associated with the king. Also, the artwork was used as a historical document that outlines the relationship between the Portuguese and the Oba (Kaplan, 1993). Concerning the Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold, the familial relationship is depicted by the artwork, and the use of a similar color in the painting is intended to blur the color blocks that can potentially create a boundary (Ringgold, 1991). Moreover, Ringgold's work is used to illuminate the internal life of the people and experiences that punctuates their daily lives. On the other hand, The Hip Pendant Representing an Iyoba demonstrates the political astuteness of a woman, and this influenced subsequent adoption of the title Queen's Mother among the Oba (Kaplan, 1993). More critically, the pendants are used spiritually where they are worn during annual celebrations to help in purification, and most importantly renewal. Additionally, Ringgold's work was integral in delivering a message hinged on women empowerment, and she encouraged women to liberate themselves by confronting the masculine dominance.
It should be noted that the use of symbols has been prevalent in the 21st Century. Communication has been enhanced through the advent of technology where different organizations utilize advertisement logos to communicate to the people. Equally important, contemporary communication is anchored on the use of emoji which reflects the feelings and ideas that an individual wants to put forth (Bleichmar, 2019). Undoubtedly, the complexity of the communication system has been substantially lessened through the use of symbols that help in demonstrating a deeper meaning that would otherwise not depicted through other forms of communication. Most organizations have integrated emoji in their communication system, which has helped them in improving their connection to the people. Also, the political environment of the 21st Century has been greatly been influenced by the use of symbols such as emoji as politicians often coin their communication around emoji to communicate to the people (Bleichmar, 2019). More significantly, the use of symbols in modern communication has been widely embraced as it is viewed as concise, clear, and convenient. Notably, emoji has been considered to be on the same scale as hieroglyphs that began the written language many years ago.References
Bleichmar, D. (2019). Painting the Aztec Past in Early Colonial Mexico: Translation and Knowledge Production in the Codex Mendoza. Renaissance Quarterly, 72(4), 1362-1415.
Hart, V. (2017). 'Navel Gazing': On Albrecht Durer's Adam and Eve (1504). International Journal of Arts Theory and History, 12(1), 1-10.
Kaplan, F. E. S. (1993). Images of the queen mother in Benin court art. African arts, 55-88.
Ringgold, F. (1991). Tar beach (Vol. 81). Knopf Books for Young Readers.
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