Art as a Visual Expression of Human Spirituality

Topics: Visual arts, Modernism, Simone de Beauvoir Pages: 4 (1344 words) Published: November 10, 2010
“Art as a Visual Expression of Human Spirituality”

According to archaeologists, the earliest humans used “art” in primitive forms to depict sacred and religious beliefs, dating back thousands of years to the early Neanderthals. From very primitive cave drawings in France to modern iconic sculpture, painting and drawing, it is safe to assume that we were born with an inherent need to express the inexpressible; that which cannot be spoken, described, or accurately represented: the ineffable.

We as humans define “art” in myriad ways in contemporary society, yet the etymology clearly indicates that from the outset, ars is a Latin term that means skill. If one were to step foot in a modern gallery, or listen to contemporary popular music, it could be argued that very little actual skill was used to create such modern works. Yet early humans, despite their limited resources, tools, materials and education somehow found a way to express their devotion in skilled ways that are still being discovered and interpreted by modern society.

From the earliest ancient societies, leading to the rise of Athens, it is of particular interest to note that most of the art depicts either animals or representations of fertility, in the form of the Goddess archetype. One possible exception to this is the ancient Egyptians, who focused most, if not all of their creative expression on securing the next life of the Pharaoh. Is there a possible correlation between the rise of the “polis” or city-state, and the decline in Goddess worship? The argument that politics is a male-dominated, power-motivated practice is a debate almost as ancient as the Rosetta Stone, yet it was during the Transitional period in ancient Greece that statues of male figures were erected and honoured. Not until the Sophists did the Goddess Aphrodite appear in sculpture, but one could argue that this is the female embodiment of beauty rather than a form of “fertility” worship. Once again, one might argue...
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