Art throughout human history
The meaning and relationship of art to our society
Art has been a source of fascination since the beginning of recorded history. Paintings have been in existence since man first started walking earth's surface. The early man drew crude lines in caves smeared with unknown kind of ink, usually dark or bloody in colors.
As early civilization progressed, art became a tool for those who cannot express their opinion, view, and on how they think of the world around them. As humanity slowly approached the modern times, art as expressed through paintings and architectural designs became the visual language of many artists especially during the Renaissance period when man's perception of things change dramatically.
One asks, what is the purpose of art? The answers are as diverse as the number of colors that coats a beautiful painting. To some, art is a source of pleasure which gives one a sense of fulfillment and happiness whenever he replicates through painting the beauty of nature. Others just want to smear a canvass with streaks of paint of different colors just for the sake of it, losing him/herself in the moment. Others use it as a form of communication, a medium to express one's love to a certain person, nature, or to God himself.
A long time ago, art is considered a ritual in worshiping the early man's gods. Yet, the most appealing feature of art, particularly in a painting, is the way it expresses itself as if it is alive or it is the manifestation of life itself. Art can also present history as it happens, or it presents our mental images of things and events in a canvas where the painting is so vivid and almost real that we usually think of the picture as alive. Look at the painting of Mona Lisa; one usually will be inclined to smile back at her because of her smile which is both mystifying and beautiful.
The concrete answer to the question as to how the world and man were created has eluded us, but in the religious view of things the Earth was created by God. This was vividly represented by a painting of Michaelangelo, the Creation of Adam at the Sistine Chapel. Because of its vastness (it covers a big part of the church's ceiling), one feels that he/she was present when God commanded the partition of night and day, and when He planted life on Earth, at the same time breathing his own breath into Adam's lungs.
Looking at the painting, one feels power emanating from it as though there's an excess of God's power spewing forth across the vastness of the church's hollow walls. The point where God and Adam's finger almost meet exudes a mystery as to what would happen at the point of contact, the moments where God's power meets with man's frailty. One can also observe in the painting that man is alone yet God is surrounded by baby angels; this justifies the saying that man is nothing without the grace of God.
A picture could paint a thousand words; this is how the painting evokes the image of creation in our kinds. With one look at the Creation of Man, a part of the question of our existence is answered. No words have been spoken, yet it's as if we have read all of the Genesis chapters in the Bible by viewing the painting.
With these observations, we can surmise that Dorothy Allison's words ring true, Michaelangelo's surprises as with its beauty and vividness, and at the same time astonishes us as to its invocation of life's elements and putting it unto the ceiling as one big canvas.
Art, as expressed through paintings and architecture, serves as the interpreter of the subject matter. It is a medium to capture the attention of the public, saying "hello, look at me, look at my tears, my smile, my beauty, look at my world."
It is surprising to know that art is also used in the field of science in what is called as art therapy. Clinical studies have shown that a beautiful painting or image tend to relax a person's mood, soothes the eyes, mind and the soul. Thus, art therapists, psychotherapists, and clinical psychologist have used art as a healing tool in curing sick and troubled individuals.
Now, we ask again, what is the purpose of art? We can say, in addition, that art is a manifestation of all life. It serves as a mirror where man and nature's beauty is reflected and preserved through time that even if a living thing ceases to exist, its image continues to convey the history of the past, its stories of anguish, sadness, war, joy, happiness, and peace.
Art will continue to evolve in harmony with the pace of humanity's progression. As recorded history sometimes vanish after going through the rigors of walking with time, art serves as an alternative that records humanity's history, in lieu of documents, pamphlets, and history books.