• Art can imitate, praise, or criticize the world around
us. That world consist of animals and plants as well
as human constructs: our knowledge systems, our
technology, our cities.
• Our natural world consists of the earth and its
flora and fauna.
• The relationship of humans and animals is very
complex. We hunt them, love them, and eat
• They are part of industry as we breed some and
• We identify with animals and project our highest
aspirations and deepest fears onto them.
• Animals appear in art in
every culture, in forms
both real and imagined.
• Animals were likely the
subjects of human’s first
• Humans have recorded
animal likeness and have
invented bizarre creatures
from parts of other living
• They are the product of human imagination,
fear, and desire.
• These creatures still feed popular imagination
today, as mermaids, giant insects, and
werewolves thrive in film and popular fiction.
• The limestone “Relief”, dated sixth century BCE,
comes from the Olmec culture of ancient Mexico,
which produced many instances of animal
imagery that combine natural and fantastic
• Here, a warrior or
priest is seated and
wearing an elaborate
with the extended jaw
of the creature forming
Towering over him is a
large serpent with
heavy brows and a
crest like some sort of
• The animal attributes
projects the man as
well as combine with
him to create
heightened powers “Relief”, la venta (Mexico), 6th
• Another fantastic creature that
was very well known during the
medieval times in literature was
• “The unicorn in captivity”, shows
the unicorn as a brilliant white
horse captured in a paradise
garden, surrounded by an
abundance of decorative flowers
and plants. It is also surrounded
by an fence, wears a jeweled
collar, and is chained to a tree.
• The unicorn represents at least
two different sets of meanings.
One is that Jesus, believed to be
the source of spiritual life, who
was hunted by man, brutally
killed, and then rose back to life.
The second represents true love in
the age of chivalry, with the
unicorn (Man) induring terrible
ordeals to win his beloved for
which the collar is represented as
a chain of love. Mentioned in
medieval allegories as a sign that
a gentleman submits to his lady’s
• A landscape image is
different from actually
• Landscape images are
composed translations of
reality that often have
deeper social or religious
• In China and Japan,
landscape paintings were
really popular among the
upper- and middle-class
especially in noisy polluted
• Landscape paintings were particularly
common in the United States and Europe
in the nineteenth century.
• Landscapes tended to have a nationalistic
look. Ex: German landscapes sometimes
were marked by melancholy or morbidity.
English landscapes however, tended to
emphasize the open-air expansiveness of
• Claude Monet is especially well known for his
paintings of nature. He painted almost exclusively
outdoors to capture the subtle qualities of light
and reflection, and even planted his own water
garden at his home in France which he then
painted in “Water Lily Pool”.
• In his later career, his paintings approached
abstraction, as brush strokes became more
important than imagery.
Flowers and Gardens
• Art gives us framed, composed, distilled, and
transcendent images of flowers.
• Gardens are living sculptures, exotic refuges
arranged for human enjoyment.
• Water is frequently a central motif in a garden of
• Flowers are sources of beauty and vehicles for
• In Japan, flower arranging is considered an
important art form, on the level of painting
calligraphy, and pottery.
• Flower painting were particularly popular in
China, Japan And also in the west.
• Left: “Apricot Blossoms” By Ma
» Right: “Little Bouquet in a Clay
» Jar” By Jan Bruegel
• Gardens were very popular among the ruling
classes of Persia, central Asia, and Mughal India,
all areas under Islamic rulers.
• In Japan there are different traditions for
gardens. One kind is planned around a pond of
lake, and features rocks, winding paths, and
bridges to delight the views with ever changing
Earthworks and site pieces
• The earth itself is sculptural material. Hundreds
of years ago, native peoples of North America
used dirt to construct large ceremonial mounds.
• Contemporary earthworks are large-scale
environmental pieces in which the earth itself is
an important component. Earthwork artists not
only use natural materials but also are responsive
to their sites.
• The monumental scale of their work is an
attribute of both ancient and modern art.
• Artist who deal with the land and with landscape
often have ecological concerns as part of their
motivation to make art.
• Humans systematically study and examine the world in
an attempt to understand its course.
• There are numerous examples of art that illustrate a
specific body of knowledge.
• In 1543, Andres Vesalius published “De Humani Corporis
Fabirca” a study of bones, muscles, and internal organs
based on the dissection of human bodies, which is
considered the beginning of modern science.
• Drawings in the service of science continue to be
made. Even though photography might seem to
be an adequate substitute for them, artist
drawings can emphasize details that either do not
stand out in photographs or become lost in the
wealth of detail.
• Medical books are still enhanced with drawings,
and medical illustrations are essential aids for
study. Drawings also are sued in studies of plants
and insects and for very small items.
Art and Intuited Knowledge
• for humans, the “world” consists not only of the
external environmental but also of the internal
realm of the mind and the metaphysical world.
• Art also deals with knowledge that humans can
intuitively grasp without necessarily being able to
articulate it. This kind of knowing is the product
of dreams, visions, and speculative guessing. It is
not systematic, organized, or scientific.
• Surrealism was an early-twentieth-century art
movement in Europe and the U.S. that explored
the unconscious, especially through dream
imagery. Surrealism developed in part as a
reaction to increased industrialization.
• Surrealism posited that this unconscious or
dream world is at least as, or probably more
important than, the ordered and regimented
external world in which humans function.
• Ex: Watches are devices of knowing and a means
of maintaining external order, however in
Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”, he
presents watches that are limp and useless. The
landscape streches out, vast and empty. Nothing
really makes “Sense”. Yet he painted it with
rigorous detail and convincing realism.
The Critique of learning
• “Gods of the modern world (Shown below) is a
strong critique of sterile knowledge. It is a
warning against the academic who is completely
occupied with research or learning that has no
value outside academia.
• Orozco believes that sterile education passes for
knowledge, but it actually keeps the young busy
without giving them any real wisdom or
• When we consider technology today, we most
likely think of the world since the industrial
revolution of the nineteenth century and more
recent developments in transportation,
manufacturing, and communication.
• Technology advanced rapidly in the early
twentieth century, causing cities to expand and
producing structures in shapes and sizes never
seen before. This inspired many artist.
• Among them was Fernand Leger. His painting
“The City” was a tribute to geometric industrial
structures and the efficiency and precision of
machines. All which stuck him as forms of
• David Smith’s “Cubi XXVI” is abstract art
imitating some qualities of machines. Smith used
industrial fabrication to create this stainless steel
sculpture and others in the series. He learned all
this technology as a factory worker.
Evaluating the constructed world
• These are some artists who presented
technology to us in a way that makes clear its
“The fighting Temeraire tugged to “Homage in New York”
By Jean Tinguely
her last breath to be broken up” By Joseph Malord William Turner
“Megatron” By Nam June Paik
• This piece and others by
Paik are about the act of
perception, how reality is
presented, and how we as
viewers reintegrate the
random images. Paik sees
his piece as a creative way
of thinking about the
reshaping of our lives and
becoming engaged in the
diversity and variety in