Western Art Influence

1386 Words 6 Pages
Art communicates various social, religious, and political messages, and it is the patrons, artist, and public who are crucial in receiving and conveying these messages. Western art was a highly influential tool and was used as a conduit for political ideologies and historical events. It could associate its subject with greatness, power, and divinity. However, it remains debatable on who had a greater hand in shaping the artistic direction of Western art — the individual or the state. While both agents are critical to the development of art, it is apparent that the latter has been more influential. It will be examined how the state and its religion serves as the crux of Western art’s production, patronage, and formal development by inspecting …show more content…
Historically, the state has used art as a political tool to assert its authority and military power, which is evident based on the prevalence of reliefs depicting military campaigns and triumphs. As a visual tool at the disposal of the state, political actors could evoke emotions ranging from fear to awe as the viewer saw visual narratives showing the spoils of wars or the ruler conquering enemies. For instance, the Stele of Naram-Sin, a Mesopotamian work, underscores the junction of the state and religion, and the power political actors could wield through art. The stele depicts the Akkadian ruler’s victory over the Lullubi people, Naram-Sin’s significance is evident in a display of hierarchic scale — he is much larger than the other figures below him. In addition, as stated in lecture, the horns on Naram-Sin’s helmet are indicative of him claiming divinity for himself. The expression of military and political clout, however, extends far beyond Mesopotamian culture, and was especially prevalent in Roman art. The Column of Trajan, commissioned by the Roman emperor himself, echoes the same manipulation of art as political propaganda as shown in Stele of Naram-Sin. Trajan’s column shows a continuous frieze depicting a pictorial narrative of his Dacian campaigns. The story of Trajan’s victory is revealed as the relief bands spiral upwards. Thus, the potency of the political actor’s use of art to depict military campaigns lays in its ability to glorify the

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