Choose an art work which has as its source (subject matter) a myth. (use a painting.) Then write an essay in which you analyze how the artist has captured, so you feel, the essential meaning, spirit, values of the myth itself.
Go to the Art Gallery on the homepage for suggested paintings you may use.
This link leads you to a number of famous art works inspired by mythology. This link has several purposes:
1. To provide enrichment for the course; you are encouraged to look at these art works, most of which are well known, so that you may become more informed about myth and art.
2. To provide you with possible choices for myths and art works to use when you write Essay 2.
3. To help students appreciate how myth carries over into later ages and other aspects of life.
If you have any visual impairment which prevents your successful examination of these pictures, let me know and we’ll provide an alternative opportunity. You will merely read the myths and summarize them, ignoring the pictorial images.
The Death of Icarus by Bruegel http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bruegel/icarus.jpg
Pandora by Dante Rossetti http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rossetti/rossetti35.html
Venus and Adonis by Paolo Veronese (Caliari) http://www.artehistoria.com/frames.htm?http://www.artehistoria.com/genios/pintores/c3667.htm
The Rape of Europa by Titian http://www.artchive.com/artchive/T/titian/rape_europa.jpg.html
The Disturbing Muses by Giorgio de Chirico http://www.mcs.csuhayward.edu/~malek/Chirico3.html
The Laocoon Group by Hagesandros, Polydorus, and Athanadorus http://www.artchive.com/artchive/G/greek/laocoon.jpg.html
The Judgment of Paris by Rubens http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rubens/rubens50.html
The Flaying of Marsyas by Titian http://www.abcgallery.com/T/titian/titian90.html
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli http://artchive.com/artchive/B/botticelli/venus.jpg.html
and the Swan
by Dali http://www.spanisharts.com/reinasofia/dali/leda
Purpose of the assignment:
1. To help you realize how important myths are (have been) to artists in all mediums (how frequently the myths we study have themselves been the object of study by other artists, who in a way, retell the myth through their own creative imaginations).
2. To help you try to get beyond the literal story or plot of the myth you choose to write about (to see the metaphor and to be able to see the meaning within and/or behind it).
3. To provide you opportunity to improve your thinking, writing, and reading skills.
4. To enrich your understanding of a particular myth (the one chosen) and of a particular art work (the one chosen).
One way to organize your paper may be as follows:
1. Write one paragraph of introduction in which you discuss in general terms how and why artists so frequently recreate myths in their art works.
2. Then move to a second paragraph in which you identify the myth and the art work you will write about. Here you would identify the names and sources of the myth (its title; what country and time frame) and the general background of the art work based on this myth (the title of the art work, the name of the author, when created, what country, etc.).
3. Take another paragraph and summarize the myth–retell the plot so that readers will be reminded of the story of the myth.
4. Then take another paragraph and analyze the myth; try to interpret its major themes. What values does it celebrate? What is the purpose of the myth? Does it share a moral lesson? Does it praise certain virtues? Does it describe the good and/or the bad which necessarily follows those who behave well and/or badly?
5. Then shift to your discussion and analysis of the art work? You may wish to give a general overview of the piece, a kind of summary if you will. A good idea would be to xerox a copy of the art work and attach it to your paper so that readers can consult it to determine your meanings.
It is difficult for me to advise you in this section because every art work is unique and accomplishes different ends. But study the painting (art work) closely; ask yourself: What is the purpose of this art work? What is the artist’s vision? What is he/she trying to say/do? What message is being sent? How does the artist try to reach the audience/viewers? What is the difference between written stories and those captured in paintings, for example?
You may wish to consider these items: the theme of the myth and how you feel it is captured; the story and its details of plot–which ones does the artist include or ignore? What character(s) are central in the art work? Where is the major focus in the art work? When one first looks at it, where is his/her attention drawn?
What use does the artist make of light–of colors–of line–of movement–of space–positioning of elements? What use does the artist make of light–balance, symmetry, or avoidance of these elements?
How is emotion captured by the artist? Look closely at faces and eyes and mouths? How does the artist try to invest his characters with the attributes they have in the story version of the myth?
Of course, you will not want to concern yourself with all of these elements; I have just tried to suggest a range of possibilities. Many others exist and you do not necessarily have to attend to any of my suggestions. Let what is useful serve your needs; disregard those you don’t understand or prefer not to consider.
Then after you have discussed in several paragraphs how the myth is restated or captured in the art work, you should add a conclusion in which you perhaps repeat your main point and somehow end on a note of the relationship(s) between art and myth.
Tip or Advice: If you look up your artwork in two or more art references (books), you are very likely to find a paragraph or more where the art work is evaluated and analyzed. This information would be very useful to you in writing your paper. Be careful. Do not just copy the information from the art reference book. Try to restate the ideas in your own words. Either way, you should most likely include a footnote or some citation material to let your readers know where the ideas (information) come from.
Any questions please email me :)
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