After reading chapter two it is obvious that Kenneth Clark holds the Greek sculpture and
civilization in higher regards than the African mask and the African civilization. The reason
Clarks interpretation of the African mask is ethnocentric is because he is viewing the mask from
a different visual convention. He is reading the mask through the eyes of the Western civilization
which view the African continent as ‘dark.’ Clark is not able to see the African mask from a
firsthand perspective; therefore, he reads the features of the mask with his own preconceptions of
violence, freight and horror. When he speaks of the Greek sculpture he speaks of light and
confidence and relates their civilization to his own. It is impossible to view a sculpture using
different visual conventions. One has to be completely opened minded and understand the
civilization without comparing it to others or judging their beliefs. Although the mask has a
horrifying emotional expression it is still beautiful with other conventional meanings. In the
reading of chapter two Susan Vogel’s perspective of the mask is significantly different from
Clarks. She sees the horns and the expressions as something beautiful, something Clark is unable
to see. Vogel speaks of the mask representing their God and how happy it made their village to
dance with the mask. She said it filled her heart with joy. I think the diversity between the two
visuals are very interesting. It shows that there are some pieces of art that one may never
understand or appreciate.
“Reading” Art: Practicing Iconography
After reading about iconography in the textbook I was very surprised to learn that it is not as
hard as I thought it would be to identify symbolism in art. The two pieces of art I chose are the
Leonardo Da Vinci painting of the last supper, created in 1495-98 and it is a painting of the
Renaissance and the Baroque Ages, and the second piece of art is a painting by Peter Paul
Rubens, of the rising of the cross. The second painting was created in 1610-1611 and it is also of
the Renaissance and the Baroque Ages. I feel that both of these painting show significant signs
of iconography along with respective roles of the artists.
The painting of the last supper is a great example of iconography. Some examples of
iconography includes Jesus sitting in the middle of the table with his apostles surrounding him.
Jesus sitting in the middle of the table shows that he was providing the dinner to the others at the
table. Jesus holding his hands out toward the food on the table signifies that he was offering the
food that he had to the apostles at the dinner table. Also the bread and fish dispersed on the table
symbolizes the bread and the fish he multiplied to allow everyone to eat. The painting holds
many significant iconography details.
I feel that both of the painting’s artists lead the role of ‘give visible or tangible form to ideas,
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