Alternative Blog: Non Western Option: Traditional African Masks

I chose to do my non-traditional blog on African masks. These masks have been made for ever, and today they are still an essential feature of the traditional culture of the peoples of Sub-Saharan Africa. I am intrigued by the looks of these masks because they are all so different. There are some masks made from wood, pottery, textiles, copper, and bronze, while others are made from items found around the house like milk bottles, aluminum cans, seeds, and so much more. You and I, and everyone else reading this blog could make an African Mask- all of them would be unique and that is what fascinates me about these masks.

The main characteristics of culture of African people is to the use these masks in rituals and ceremonies. Some of the earliest masks were used before the Paleolithic era. These masks are known for representing animals, ancestors, heroes, moral values, or a symbolic way to honor someone. The maker of the masks usually has a high rank in the village and it is believed that he is in contact with spirits.

Most commonly, the masks are shaped like a human head. They are highly stylized because they are made to represent an abstract subject. Masks representing calmness and patience will have half-closed eyes; one with a small mouth and eyes represents humility while a mask that represents wisdom has a wide bulging forehead. Masks with a large chin represent power or strength.

At the ceremonies, the mask is worn by a dancer that then becomes “bearer” of the spirit of the mask. Most ceremonies such as a wedding or even a funeral will have a masked dance.

For my exhibit, I chose three traditional masks made by artists in the late 1990s-early 2000s. Instead of choosing old masks, I chose newer masks to show everyone how unique the (African) artists gave gotten with their props over the last millions of years. These following are some of the newest, most famous, African masks by artists Calixte Dakpogan and Ramuald Hazoume.

maman binze

I decided to start my exhibit on African masks with this mask. This is Maman Binze by the african artist Calixte Dakpogan, and it was created in 2009. This mask is made from iron, copper, plastic, and hair. Maman Binze can be found at CAAC art, Pigozzi Collection in Geneva.

When I look at this mask I am instantly drawn into the textures. It has a lot of beads to make up the shape of the face, rather than the more traditional use of wood. The way Dakpogan used dead space on the face between the beads is unlike most masks. Most masks have fully enclosed faces, so this one is unique. The hair looks like grass, the eyes look like slinkies, and the nose looks like metal. There are so many different colors and textures in this mask, and I thought it was perfect to start my exhibit off with for that exact reason.

bagdad city

The next mask I chose for my exhibit is Bagdad City created by Ramuald Hazoume in 1992. This mask is made from a plastic can, loud speakers and various electronic elements. It is also found at CAAC art, Pigozzi Collection, Geneva.

This mask instantly had my attention because its so unique yet so simple. It is made mostly from a plastic can, yet you can clearly see facial features. This one may not be as appealing to you as it is to me, but I think it has such great elements. It is not your typical African mask at all- it is a much more modern day simplified version and I think that is what attracted me to it.

on off

On/Off by Ramuald Hazoume, made in 1992, is made from plastic cans, seeds, metal, aluminum and copper and is also found at: CAAC art, Pigozzi Collection, Geneva.

This mask is made of a lot of the same materials as Bagdad City, but it looks so much different! The hair makes such a huge difference in a mask. This mask looks angry to me, so it has me interested in what kind of spirit it may represent. I am drawn to this piece because the facial expression Hazoume gave it. The way the eyebrows turn inward and the way the white has shadows on the cheeks makes me feel this mask represents some sort of strong willed person from the past. I really enjoy looking at all the details this mask portrays.

Lastly, please check out this YouTube video of an African man creating an African Mask! It is a live video iRecorded on October 31, 2011 in Accra, Ghana. I enjoy this video because it is live footage and it shows all the different techniques and details that go into making these masks.

The making of the African Mask at the Art Market:



“Bagdad City by Romuald Hazoumé – Pigozzi Collection 2016.” CAACART. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.


“History of Traditional African Masks.” History of African Masks. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.


“Maman Binze by Calixte Dakpogan – Pigozzi Collection 2016.” CAACART. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.


“On/Off by Romuald Hazoumé – Pigozzi Collection 2016.” CAACART. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.


1037thebeat. “Behind the Scenes. (the Making of the African Mask).”YouTube. YouTube, 02 Nov. 2011. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.


Post Modern: Abstract Art Exhibit

To you, the following six pieces of art may looks sloppy or boring, but to me they are none the less beautiful forms of art that may be different than what we have seen in the past. My virtual exhibit is all about abstract art. As we have seen in the past eras, a lot of art revolves around historical times such as the enlightenment or more recently, the great depression. So what makes these six pieces of art different than what we have seen before? Everything! These art forms do not tell a story, they do not reflect history, they do not intent to be anything other than art, and they are beautifully abstract. Art does not have to tell a story. Art is art, and that is what you will see in these six pieces.

In the 2000’s art changed a bit. I chose art from Mark Bradford, Sterling Ruby, and Chris Martin. All of these pieces are similar in the fact that they are abstract and you won’t be able to guess any sort of story line from looking at them; they are not a landscape or some sort of emotional piece, rather they are abstract, different, and stunning.



Mark Bradford

Bradford was born and raised in south Los Angeles, his mother had a business in their neighborhood, and although Bradford’s family moved oven, his mother Janice Banks kept her job. When Bradford graduated high school he became a hairdresser at his mothers salon. After that, he began his studies at the California Institute of the Arts in 1991 when he was 30 years old. He earned a BFA in 1995 and a MFA in 1997.

Bradford is known for his art being unique. Usually a grid-like abstract combining collage with paint. He is also known for encompassing video, print and installation. He is known for less than formal art that ignites his unique personality.

Kryptonite, White Painting, and The Devil is Beating his Wife were my three favorite pieces by Bradford. They are all unique and abstract.


Kryptonite, which was made in 2006, is mixed media collage on paper and can be found in the Saatchi Gallery. This image seems to possess an organic quality and it is grid like in composition. The over lapping details make it abstract. Bradford uses hard edged borders and different planes that fit perfectly together. According to Bradford, this piece is supposed to be an exciting metropolitan landscape.

This piece is certainly abstract and that is why I put it in my exhibit. Personally, when I think of maroon and black colors I think of dark and depressing art- however Bradford worked those dark colors in such a way that when I look at this abstract piece I feel happy thoughts. The unique uses of shapes and colors come together in a light and happy way. This piece is kind of a (beautiful) mess if you ask me, but it is extremely abstract and it really captures the look that Bradford goes for in his art.

white painting

White Painting was created in 2009, and is mixed media collage on canvas. This painting also can be found at the Saatchi Gallery along with many other pieces of art by Bradford. In this painting, it is clear that the lines are unequal, and that is something Bradford is known for. He manages to make something so unequivocal look so stunning, and that is what art is all about. In this painting, he uses paper to replicate the effect of paint- scratching and sanding through the paper to reveal color and strata embedded. This is a nice mix between abstract impressionism, and street art.

This is one of Bradford’s more plain pieces, but it is abstract none the less. When I look at this painting I see random lines that fit together in perfect unison, and that is appealing to the eye. There is the perfect amount of color- just enough to not over crowd the unique lines, yet enough color to give it the “pazaz” it needs.

the devil

The Devil is Beating his Wife, 2003,  is made from stencils on paper and can be found in the Saatchi Gallery.

Something incredible about Bradford’s painting, especially The Devil is Beating his Wife is how Bradford incorporates elements from his everyday life such as found posters and billboards, logos, stencils, as well as things he collected from his years of being a hairdresser. In this piece, Bradford takes all of these materials and pixelates them into an eruption of cultural cross referencing.

How stunning is this piece of art? It is so unique, so abstract, and so lively. It almost looks like a blurry skyline to me. It makes my imagination work hard, and it is the perfect addition to my abstract theme.


The next artist I chose from the 2000s that shows abstract art without a story behind it is Sterling Ruby.

Sterling Ruby was born in 1972 and he is an American artist living in Lost Angeles who works largely in ceramics, painting, collages, sculpture, video, and drawing as well. Ruby cites a diverse range of sources such as aberrant psychologies (schizophrenia, paranoia), gangs, graffiti, punk, violence, prisons, and more. He is not a minimalist and his work often appears scratched, defaced, or dirty. He is considered one of the most interesting artists to emerge in the twentieth century considering his work examines psychological space where expression and constraint confront one another.

Ruby was born in Germany on a military base but later moved to the United States. After he graduated high school, he worked in construction until he left for college. He attended The Pennsylvania School of Art and Design, and in 2001 he received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2003 he moved to Los Angeles and received his MFA at Art Center College of Design in California.


SP288, made in 2014, is spray paint on synthetic canvas and can be found in the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong. This piece mixes together different shades of purple and pink to give an abstract look. From looking at this piece one may see a magnified pink sky, or even cotton candy or pink clouds- and that is what makes this so abstract! It is such a simple piece of art that has so many possibilities. I wanted to incorporate this into my exhibit because it is abstract and has endless possibilities- it is simple, abstract beautiful art with no story line. It is what you make of it, and that is so fascinating to me.

The next artist that makes abstract pieces of art is Chris Martin.

Chris Martin:

Chris Martin was born in 1954. He is an artist based in Brooklyn, although he was born and raised in Washington DC. He is known for his abstract paintings with elements of collage. He is also known for referencing the New Age as well as nature. Martin often uses pop cultural references in his work, considering he has many influences from the fields of literature, music, and even film. He is inspired by so much, and he uses his inspiration as the subject of his work.

The pieces I chose for my exhibit are a few of his more abstract paintings- his work is my favorite, so of course I saved the best for last!

in memory of jb

In Memory of James Brown was created in 2005. This is oil and acrylic gel on canvas and it can be found at the Saatchi Gallery.

This gel on canvas piece took him two years to complete. Although this piece looks spontaneous, this piece took prolonged consideration and an immense amount of reworking the canvas. The black and white pattern, painted of a collage, resembled both vinyl LPs as well as 60s art. Martin chose to make it this way because Brown’s legacy reminded him of the “funkadelic” movement in the 60s.

This is my favorite piece because it is abstract, yet it actually has an emotional story line behind it. Martin took so much time on this piece because it was important for him to make it just right. The way the black circular shapes are unequal and the white space in-between has no symmetry makes this extremely abstract, and that is what my exhibit is all about. Black and white art is my favorite, and Martin put so much time and emotion into this piece, which makes me love it that much more.

mother popcorn

Lastly, we have Mother Popcorn, 2006, oil and collage on canvas which can be found in the Saatchi Gallery.

Mother Popcorn takes its title from the James Brown hit, one of the most important tracks in the development of Brown’s distinctive funk sound.  There is something distinctly different about this piece that none of the other parts of my exhibit had- writing! Look along the borders, you will see: “‘James Brown Dances and Directs The Popcorn with the James Brown Band.’ [This] places Martin’s abstract motif as a stand in for pictorial narrative, the loud rhythmic pattern conveying the essence and energy of a live performance” (Chris Martin Artist Profile, 1).  This canvas has extreme texture and identifiable shape that creates sensation within the painting and gives the canvas a dynamic look.

The red, blue and yellow shapes give it an abstract feeling. There is so much color and even some writing as well. This piece is so funky, which is exactly what Martin wanted. I wanted to leave this at the end of my exhibit to leave you all with an upbeat happy and colorful mental image.



Works Cited:

“Chris Martin (artist).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Feb. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.


“Chris Martin.” Artist’s Profile. Saatchi Gallery, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.


“Mark Bradford.” – Artist’s Profile. Saatchi Gallery, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.


“Mark Bradford.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.


“Sterling Ruby.” Gagosian Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.–september-13-2014


“Sterling Ruby.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.


“Sterling Ruby – 62 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy.” Sterling Ruby – 62 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy. Artsy, n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.


Early Modern: Great Depression Exhibit

The Great Depression lasted from 1929-1939 and it was the longest lasting economic downturn in American history. The Great Depression came soon after the stock market crash in October of 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. So, over the next eight or so years, consumer spending and investing had come to a halt. This caused steep declines in industrial output and the unemployment levels rose dramatically. By 1933, when the Great Depression began to slow, 13-15 million Americans were jobless and almost half of the country’s banks had failed. Though the relief and reform measures put into place by President Roosevelt in 1933 helped lesson the worst effects of the Great Depression, the economy would not fully turn around until years later in 1939.

I have put together an exhibit of art and music made between 1929 and 1939 during the years of the great depression. All of these pieces were made to help visualize or understand the horror of those years, the pain people went through, and the measures people had to take to stay on their feet.

I hope you enjoy my exhibit on the Great Depression:



Dispossessed was created in 1938 by Mervin Jules. It is tempera on cotton mounted on fiberboard, and is located in the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery.

This painting shows scenes of the urban homeless people during the Great Depression. This time period left so many without a shelter or a home to put their belongings in. The picture shows an elderly couple with gloomy faces sitting on couches and chairs that once were part of their home. This picture shows desperation of people ruined by the Great Depression. “Their long faces and defeated poses express the depth of misery” (Search Collections, 1). The tray that sits on the ground reflects a group of workers waiting in line, emphasizing the desperation of the Great Depression. Mervin Jules was committed to his art, and this piece perfectly show’s how difficult things could be during the long years that made up our economy’s biggest downfall, the Great Depression.

Personally, this picture gives me the chills. I could not imagine life without a home, and a place to put my furniture. The gloomy, defeated looks on this couple’s face shows just how hard times really were during those life changing 10 years of the Great Depression. Mervin Jules did such a wonderful job on this art piece, it really draws people in.


migrant mother

Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange is a photograph that was taken in 1936 and can be found in the Dorothea Lange Archive, Oakland Museum.

This early modern photograph fit perfectly in my exhibit on the Great Depression because it was taking in 1936, when the Great Depression was finally coming to an end. The woman, a mother of three, looks worn, beaten, tired, and desperate. The look of desperation on her face while two children lie on her shoulders, a third lying in her arms, had become a photographic icon of life during the Great Depression.

This was my favorite photograph taken during the Great Depression because I feel it captures so much emotion and even more truth. The woman and her children are wearing worn out clothing and seem to have given up. Just three years after this photo was taken, WWII brought a rise in our economy and the Great Depression was over at last.


american gothic.jpg

American Gothic is a painting by Grant wood created in 1930. It is located at the Art Institute of Chicago. This photo fits into my exhibit because it is an early modern painting that clearly depicts the Great Depression- just as the other’s did.

In this painting, you see a woman a man, both of whom look exhausted. The woman is wearing a colonial print apron and the man holds a pitchfork. The pitch fork symbolizes hard labor, and the flowers over the woman’s shoulders suggests domesticity. This is a famous piece of art, and it fits wonderfully in my exhibit about the Great Depression.

To me, this picture shows the hard work that had to be put into being successful during these years. I assume the home that sits behind them in the painting is their own, and they were able to keep their home unlike many others during this time because of the hard work the man put into making money (ass seen by his pitchfork). This is not my favorite picture from my exhibit simply because I have seen it 100 times, and it doesn’t capture the major downfall of economy. With that being said, this picture gives hope because it proves that with hard work, life during the Great Depression was doable.


Lastly, Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? With lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney was made in 1939 and is a song about hard times during the Geat Depression. Although it is not my style, the lyrics are so revealing and it is really worth your time to sit and listen to this song. Check out Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? at this link:


“American Experience: TV’s Most-watched History Series.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.


“American Gothic.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.


“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Feb. 2016. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.,_Can_You_Spare_a_Dime%3F


“Migrant Mother, 1936.” Migrant Mother, 1936. Eye Witness to History, 2005. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.


“Search Collections.” Dispossessed by Mervin Jules / American Art. Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.


“The Great Depression.” A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.


Romantic/Impressionism Blog

In my eyes, impressionistic art is absolutely beautiful, but I could see why some beg to differ. Impressionism depicts fleeting moments and is portrayed in art with dabs of color and sketchy lines; the artist focuses on transitory light and weather as well. Most of all, impressionism does not focus on traditional subject matter such as history or religion- it is simply about pleasant moments- and that is what makes it so beautiful. The following art work is impressionistic art that I found to be astonishingly beautiful. I thought I would share my favorite pieces of art from this era with you and see if you agree or disagree with how I feel about the beauty that is impressionistic art. Claude Monet is my favorite impressionistic artist from this era and an important piece of his art is shown below:



Impression, Sunrise was completed in 1873 by Claude Monet and today it is located at Musee Marmottan Monet, Paris. Monet visited Le Havre, his hometown in France in 1872. He created 6 canvases depicting the port of Le Havre during different times of the day. Impression, Sunrise became the most famous of those 6 works. What makes this work impressionistic is the blobs of color Monet used in create this art work, as well as the lighting and the weather. I think his purpose of putting people in canoes on the water was his attempt to depict a peaceful moment. The skies are beautiful, the moon is bright, and this seems to be a very peaceful and pleasant moment- a main characteristic of impressionistic art.

Other important impressionistic artists of this era were as follows: Eugene Boudin, Gustave Caillebotte, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Armand Guillumin, Winslow Homer, and more. You can find their impressionistic work at the following website:

The following artwork was done by Mary Cassatt, another one of my favorites:


Summer time by Mary Cassatt, an oil on canvas impressionism painting, was completed in 1894 and can be found at Terra Foundation for the Arts, Chicago, USA. This canvas is clearly impressionistic work because it is depicting a pleasant moment, as well as how it is colored with “blobs”. The weather and lighting is important in this canvas as well, considering those are two important characteristics of impressionistic art. I love how not only do the people seem to be at peace, but the ducks do as well. The waters are calm, the weather seems beautiful, and mom and daughter are enjoying their afternoon.

I would like to compare impressionistic art with romantic art. Romantic art was about elicited emotions, strong subject matter such as landscapes, exoticness, mists, or dreams. It also showed a lot of tragedies, floating, and even attitude. Those characteristics are a complete “360” turn around from the details that make impressionistic art. For example, romantic art is about exoticism, tragedies, and attitude, where as impressionistic art is about peace and pleasant times. The following art work is a romantic painting compared to work from an impressionistic artist.

dedham valesunrise

Dedham Vale (left) is a romanticism painting painted by John Constable in 1802. It can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. As you can see, this is a Romantic painting because it portrays a landscape, which is one of the characteristics of Romantic art. Of all the different romantic art paintings I could have chosen, I chose this landscape painting because I also also decided to choose a landscape painting for my impressionistic art [Impression, Sunrise by Monet (right)]. I figured these two paintings, one piece being Impressionistic art (right), and this one being Romantic art (left), would be fun to compare. As we know, impressionistic art looks like it is painted in blobs, whereas Dedham Vale is not. To me, impressionist art is much more beautiful, more abstract, and more imaginative. I don’t see the beauty in Dedham Vale the way I can in Impression, Sunrise. The impressionistic painting shows peace, whereas the Romantic one seems to look a lot gloomier, tragic, and much less peaceful.


“Claude Monet.” Claude Monet. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2016.

“Dedham Vale.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Jan. 2016. Web. 03 Mar. 2016.


“Impression, Sunrise.” Impression, Sunrise. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.


“Impression, Sunrise.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Feb. 2016. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.,_Sunrise


“L’Absinthe.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Oct. 2015. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.


“Summertime by Cassatt.” Summertime by Cassatt. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.


“THE IMPRESSIONISM SEEN THROUGH 50 PAINTINGS.” Online Art Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2016.


Classical Period- Art and Science Development

The theme of this following exhibit is: Art and Science development in the classical period. This period is a very crucial part of our history. The enlightenment (which branches off the scientific revolution) happened during the classical period. The enlightenment was a time where some of our most important historical documents, like the encyclopedia for example, came to life. Science is a very important topic of the classical era, and artists such as William Blake, Joseph Wright, and many others were able to capture the art of science in these following paintings and canvases.

My chosen topic, which relates to the following three photos, is art and scientific discovery in the 1700’s. In the classical era, science became a huge topic. Many art forms were created depicting all the progress that was made. As previously mentioned, the arts of this period were based a lot on the enlightenment movement.

experiment on a bird

The [above] painting created in 1768 by Joseph Wright of Derby, called An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump (which can be found at the national gallery in London), related a lot to the scientific progress that the leaders of the classical era were making. This painting is the most symbolic of my exhibit’s theme (art and science development). “The painting depicts a natural philosopher, a forerunner of the modern scientist, recreating one of Robert Boyle‘s air pump experiments, in which a bird is deprived of air, before a varied group of onlookers.” (An Experiment, 1). If you notice the details in the painting, it is evident that no one seems to be too worried about the bird, but rather excited about the science.


el arcadia ego

The last painting that seems to depict the idea of art and scientific discovery is an oil on canvas art work called Et in Arcadia Ego made by Nicolas Poussin between 1637 and 1638. You can find this artwork at Musee de Louvre. This painting relates to the history of art, rather than the history of science like the first two paintings did. Here, you see men surrounding a tomb; you see a man tracing a shadow with his finger. “According to an ancient tradition, this is the moment in which the art of painting is first discovered. Thus, the shepherd’s shadow is the first image in art history.” (Et in Arcadia Ego, 1). This photo fit perfectly into my exhibit theme of art and science development, because as you just read, this was the moment in which the art of painting was finally discovered.

So, everyone reading my exhibit may wonder what I think of these art forms. My favorite one is An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump. I think what I love most about this painting is the expressions on all of their faces. We have men, women, and children of all different intellectual standpoints (a philosopher of science, mature adults, clueless children, etc….) yet they are all overwhelmed with interest in the science of this experiment. It really shows how much progression had happened during the classical period. I disliked the last painting of Et Arcadia Ego. This may be because I am bias (I am a science major and don’t have much interest in art history), but it may also be because I can’t see much expression. Are they happy? Are they sad? It is hard to tell, but the facts are evident in each of these three paintings; they all fit in my exhibit on art and science development so perfectly.

The last part to my exhibit, is the symphony from Mozart which can be found at this website:

I hope you enjoy listening to Mozart Symphony no. 40

Looking back now, symphonies became popular during the classical period and this one is my personal favorite. Symphonies are a big part of art history and musical development.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed my exhibit.


“An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

“An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.” The National Gallery. The National Gallery, n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

“Et in Arcadia Ego.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.

The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer


the milkmaid

The Milkmaid was created by a Dutch artist by the name of Johannes Vermeer between the years 1657-58. This 18 x 16 1/8 inch oil art on canvas was created in RijksmuseumAmsterdam in the Netherlands. This small picture was one of the first pieces of art from Vermeer since his style change (his new style included direct observation). Vermeer changing his style is very important for this piece of art, because the first thing the viewer will notice is a woman hard at work with her sleeves pulled up. “it [the picture] seems to be Vermeer’s way of paying tribute to the virtues of temperance, purity and hard work.”(The Milkmaid (C. 1568), 1). It is also clear to see that this picture is symbolizing the rise of the merchant class.

The maid in this picture pouring milk symbolizes the rise of the merchant class for one of two reasons. Researches have not been able to tell if this woman is a maid for a merchant class family, or if she is in fact the merchant class woman still working as a maid for a wealthier family. If researches could further narrow down the exact time this was painted, it would be easier to decipher between the two possibilities. But, no matter the case, I can make my argument- because there are specific details about this woman in the picture.

If this woman is a maid for a merchant class family, then we know the merchant class has already risen, because previously a merchant family would not have been able to afford a maid. On the other hand, if this milk maid is a lower class merchant woman herself, it is clear that there is a rise about to happen in the merchant class by the look on her face. Although the contrast of light is reflecting off part of her face, it is still clear to see that she is not angry. She has a small smirk on her face meaning she is happy. There are many reasons she may be happy. Perhaps it is because the merchant class is rising, they can now buy art for their homes, they notice recognition of their hard work, and their lives are looking up.

As I previously stated, it is impossible to tell whether this woman is a maid for a merchant family (meaning the rise in the merchant class has already happened), or if she is a merchant woman anticipating the rise, but either way it is clear to tell this picture is influenced specifically by the rise of the merchant class. The rise in the merchant class was such an important part of this time period. It is important for us to see what this picture could be symbolizing.

I think this oil on canvas picture is wonderful in the sense that it tells a story. This is one of the few paintings I have seen from this time frame that makes me want to learn more and more about the time period itself.

This woman is making bread pudding, and she is either very concentrated or happy, but certainly not angry. Her arm sleeves are pulled up and she is hard at work. To me, this picture is amazing. This was a time when so many things were changing and I think the look on her face is so telling. There are also many other parts of this picture such as the foot warmer on the ground and the baroque periods’ image of a maid that could give this picture another meaning. Maids from this time frame were often portrayed as sexual beings, but let’s not get into that. I just think that the way Vermeer used so many details and proper lighting are extremely functional in this photo. With that being said, I also wish he made it more obvious to his viewers whether this woman is awaiting the rise in the merchant class, or if she is working for a merchant class who has recently risen.

peasant dance

The picture above it The Peasant Dance by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. This is a renaissance painting of the peasants, who are considered to be below the merchant class. I think these two pictures (which both happen to be oil on canvas pictures) are similar in the way they depict how things were in their specific classes. The Milkmaid was a picture from the Baroque period which showed how the women in the lower classes were treated. They were maids who worked hard and wore rugged outfits, but- they were not angry. They knew their position and they accepted it. The picture I am comparing The Milkmaid to is The Peasant Dance which is a renaissance piece of art. In the renaissance, which is the period before the Baroque period, there were four distinct social classes. The nobles, merchants, tradesmen, and unskilled workers. However the peasants were even below the unskilled workers. They often went with out food or water and died from starvation. These pictures are similar because they depict different social classes in different periods of our history. The changes from one era to the next are important to note. This peasants from the renaissance era are very low class as you can see from their clothing, they argue and are more interested in material things (as you can see from the picture). The merchant class in the Baroque era were rising, they were happy and expecting change in their lives.

Liedtke, Walter. “Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) and The Milkmaid | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art.”The Met‘s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Department of European Pictures, Aug. 2009. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.

“Social Classes of the Renaissance.” -History for N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2016. <

“The Milkmaid (c.1658).” The Milkmaid, Jan Vermeer: Analysis, Interpretation. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.

“The Milkmaid (Vermeer).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2016.

Michelangelo’s David: Humanistic Art

Michelangelo’s David: Humanistic art


Michelangelo’s David was created in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence between 1501 and 1504. This work of art is one of the most famous humanistic pieces of art from the Italian Renaissance.

I am instantly drawn to this piece of art because of the story it tells. Many people know the story of David and Goliath, in fact there are many famous works of art (other than Michelangelo’s) showing David after this well-known battle with Goliath. So, what makes Michelangelo’s David different than the other art works of David? Well, Michelangelo’s David shows David before the battle ever occurred, yet after he decided he wanted to fight.

This battle was not one of a physical nature, but rather one of cleverness. It was once said that the slingshot he carries over his shoulder is meant to look invisible, in an attempt to emphasize David’s victory being one of cleverness, and not force.

Michelangelo’s David is a humanistic art form. It has extreme humanistic qualities such as rationality, civic virtue, and individualism. Because Michelangelo depicted David prior to the battle, he is able to present him as man of conscious thought. This humanistic piece also shows civic virtue. Michelangelo carved David partly as a symbol of the proud independence of Florence. Michelangelo did this because he himself was devoted to the Florentine Republic and he wanted its citizens to become devoted in helping Florence become free. The last humanistic feature shown in Michelangelo’s creation is individualism. David appears strong and toned as well as proportional and graceful.

My opinion of David at first sight is that he is a strong man, both physically and mentally. Before researching his story, I had an insight of David’s story just because of how intense the details are on this statue. I feel that is what had drawn me to it at first. The extreme individualism of this art was intriguing and beautiful and immediately had my attention. I noticed the concerned yet confident look on David’s face, which lead me to the conclusion that he was looking off at Goliath in the distance. Then, I noticed how his stance wasn’t defensive or even mighty, but rather relaxed, which lead me to my research about how this battle between the two biblical figures was not one of physicality, but rather brainpower.


McClinton, Brian. “Michelangelo’s David.” Humanism Ireland • No 117 • July-August 2009 Humanist Masterpieces (2009): 12-13. Humanist Masterpieces. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.

“Michelangelo’s David: Admire World’s Greatest Sculpture at Accademia Gallery.” Michelangelo’s David: Admire World’s Greatest Sculpture at Accademia Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.

“Michelangelo’s David.” Michelangelo’s David. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.