Art And Nature A Look At Three

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Art And Nature: A Look At Three Cultures Essay, Research Paper Art is defined as the human ability to make things; it is the creativity of man as distinguished from the world of nature. Although it may be distinguished from nature, it clearly reflects it. Art from different cultures of the world incorporates its environment into its art; classical European art like the impressionist Monet; American web-artist Mark Napier; the art of the Yoruba in southwest Nigeria; all employ their respective environments in creating their art. Monet used water lilies and other natural settings in his art. Napier uses his digital landscape to create an environment to display his art. The Yoruba create their art to worship their main god, who happens to be the earth. And yet, while these three

vastly different art forms are inspired similarly, the end results differ incredibly. All three come from cultures that are different from the one which this is being written from, a Midwestern background with an education that has sometimes treated the appreciation of art as a secondary goal in the education process. Each one inspires a different reaction, and each piece of art is looked at with a slightly different bias. This paper will try to explain what these reactions and biases are, relating them to cultural differences and similarities. It will compare and contrast these art forms in various ways, contrasting the old and the new and seeing what one draws from the other. Monet s work is perhaps the closest cultural work, in relation to the author, that is examined here. In

American culture, Monet is a highly regarded impressionist. His works sell for millions of dollars and are known across the culture. He is studied in schools and even children can identify his most famous pieces of art, like Water Lilies. Growing up in this culture, it is easy to understand and identify with his art. Monet s art is his own impression of the world around him; it is the way that he saw the world put down on canvas. He liked to capture light and vibrant color in his work, expressing his own outlook on the world. American children are taught all of these things; we are taught that he loved nature, and that he even created his own water garden in France when he grew wealthy, where he painted towards the end of his life. He was among Europe s leading artists during his

life, a life that spanned the end of the European industrial revolution and the First World War. Monet s work is not very self-aware; Monet never even intended for much of his art to be seen by the public. His art reflected his own impressions of the world, but never in a way that made one aware of his own cultural biases and positions. The impressions he made through his art were ones of light and color, beauty and perception. His style of impressionism was certainly not as self-conscious as some of his contemporaries; Van Gogh for instance. Van Gogh drew a self-portrait of himself after cutting off his ear in an absinthe-induced state. Monet was never so bold or extreme. His work, therefore, is easily identified with by American culture; an impressionist whose impressions never

varied too much from the norm. When these works were first painted, who the artist didn t matter nearly as much as the art did; the reverse is nearly true today, nearly a century later. If anyone else were paint an impressionist piece depicting water lilies in a garden, not even a ripple would be made in the western art world. If, however, a previously unknown piece of Monet s work were found, then the art world would be in chaos. Today the artist is just as important as the art, because the name is just as easily recognizable as the art, if not more so. As influential and important as Monet s work is to the art world, it is not necessarily as important to French culture. Although Monet would probably be included in a list of the most culturally important French men of all time,