Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
The first artifact I have chosen to discuss for my final exam is the Great Pyramid at Giza. This pyramid, the final resting place of Pharaoh Khufu (Cheops) is, as one of the seven greatest wonders of the old world, one of the most amazing pieces of architecture of which I personally know.
The form and subject matter of the pyramid is just that, a pyramid. That shape of structure is very indicative of that time period; pyramids were used all over Egypt at that time as temples and places of burial for the upper class, most notably the pharaohs. Something of such magnitude took so much time, so much money, and so much manpower that only the highest class could even hope to build such a thing. It is thought that it took from twenty to thirty years and over 100,000 slaves to build the Great Pyramid. Everything involved in the construction of the pyramid was so enormous that Khufu’s might could not be denied. This was the main purpose of its construction, the Pharaohs of that time period were hell-bent on showing their might and godliness, and each tried to outdo the pharaoh before him. Each tried to build something bigger, better, and more elaborate. No one wanted to be forgotten with the passage of time.
The Pyramid also served several other factors. First, all of the walls in the Pyramid are inscribed with the name of Khufu, as well as his feats, in architecture, in warfare, in fertility, in everything. Again, the point was that he would be remembered for eternity as a significant entity. Also, many inscriptions were of scenes from the holy book, describing the passage from the living world to the dead world, as the pharaohs
worried not only about their life before death, but their continued comfort in the life after. Descriptions of the road to take and sacred text that would help his soul travel safely covered the walls. The tomb was filled with the things that Khufu used in everyday life so that his soul would be comfortable in the netherworld, including clothing, food, pets, and even slaves.
Everything aforementioned completely illustrates the idea of the pharaoh’s self at that time and place. He was a god-like figure, due the wealth of the country, the service of its people, and the continued best of life in death. The only thing that sets Khufu’s tomb aside from the rest at that time is its size, as it is the largest Egyptian pyramid in existence. Otherwise, Khufu was unfortunately like the rest, a follower, unable to think outside the box and come up with anything better than the rest before him. The Great Pyramid did absolutely nothing special to influence anyone at the time.
The next image that I am going to discuss is Puberty by Edvard Munch. This is a painting of a young girl, about eleven or twelve years old, just hit puberty. She is alone on a bed in an empty room, trying to cover herself and looking obviously ashamed. This young, naked girl comes at a time when Expressionism was full force, so while the shock effect was no longer so appalling, the fact that it was a young girl, not in Ruebenesque form but in withdrawal and embarrassment WAS shocking. Munch’s pictures like this made him infamous, and for a long period he was banned from many exhibitions and listings.
Because of his extremity, even for the Expressionist movement, he had little financial support. In fact, when Munch died he had stacks of painting all over the many
places where he had lived and stayed, since none on them had patrons and no one wanted them. The people of early 1900 Europe were still getting used to the idea of bold, stark truth, and rough, audacious colors and stroking. Munch helped to push the idea of truth, of impudence and exposing the ugly side of things. In Puberty he truly takes on the edge of something great, breaking the barrier and building a foundation for future artists.
The final piece I have chosen is a photo by Anne Geddes. It is untitled, so I have included the picture.
I feel that Anne Geddes is an exemplary artist in many ways. First, I think she is a great example to all artists in that she is self-taught. In today’s world, that is very common for the baby boomer age of artists, but I am afraid that for my generation it is not at all. My generation is taught that college and training are a must, and that one cannot go anywhere at all without it. While I think that college is very much a beneficial thing, I do not think that one is REQUIRED a bachelor’s degree from anywhere to make something of oneself. There is far too much pressure saying that you cannot possibly do it
on your own, that you are not ‘qualified’ enough to be an artist. In my opinion, anyone can do anything, as long as one has the determination to do it. In that I feel that Geddes is an excellent role model.
Having established that fact, Geddes’ images deal with another somewhat taboo topic, babies. It seems to me that nowadays, things are turned away from the family image, from a stable foundation and real personal contact. Everything is focused on the ‘technological age’ and impersonality. I think that Geddes strives to use her art to bring one back home, to where life began, to the softness and simplicity of the unknowing mind. She often uses images comparing grown adults with tiny babies, stressing the size difference of the individuals, implying the difference in stress levels, responsibility, etc, while showing the sameness of existence and what truly matters.
Her images are used in a myriad of ways, from coffee table books to calendars to plush toys. I myself own a doll of a baby dressed in a rabbit costume, and I think that it is absolutely my favorite doll I have every owned. Even in a plastic doll, the absolute joy and laughter of a baby is caught in a way that only Anne Geddes seems to be able to do.
I think that Geddes is striving to bring back the notion of what existence is really about, the idea that life is made to immerse itself in love and laughter and human connections. Her work appeals not only to mothers but also to independent teens, workingmen, and unconventional women. I think the reason it appeals so much is that people are thirsty for what we’ve lost over time, for family, for connection, for touch. It isn’t changing the concept of the individual to something new, it’s going back in time, back to something that is simpler, happier, and has less worries. It’s a proven scientific
fact that those who have more human touch and contact are less stressed and much happier than those who receive less. I think it is that people see in Geddes’ images, that which makes them so striking and so popular. I guess I have not chosen to deal with one of her images specifically, I really think that what’s said applied to any and every one of them. However, I will say this: this image speaks of human touch in a striking way, in that the baby looks like it is still in the womb, yet it is not, simply wrapped tight to the woman’s skin under a gauze wrapping. This speaks so loudly of what all of humanity craves, the human touch in a way that so many have such a hard time finding, or accepting.
In my personal life, I feel that everything any artist has tried to do, or tried to express, has something to do with my artwork. Where the Pyramid applies, I also try to show my strengths and put myself into it in such a way that I will not be forgotten, although I do not do it in such a way that is so self-motivated. As did the Expressionists I challenge current morals and standards, put the gruesome truth out there, and make an attempt ant stretching the allowed boundaries. And, as Anne Geddes does, I try to bring things back home, to make people look at things simply, and honestly, and to see the real beauty beneath all of the trappings of a ‘modern’ society.