Throughout all of known human civilization man has used art as a form of communication to express ideas, emotions, and experiences that speak to each individual differently. What is beautiful about art is not always the way it is created, but rather the way that a certain piece has deeper meaning that portrays the constantly changing world around the artist. Society is like an organism: always growing and morphing, and though it may look the same as it once did, it becomes an entirely different being. With this, for better or for worse, people will always adapt; the time is constantly shifting, and humanity rises above and beyond, resilient, yet at the same time soft and malleable, shaped and sculpted like clay on a pottery wheel. With the external changes humanity has experienced throughout thousands and thousands of years of history, internally we are influenced just as radically. Art, in this sense, becomes a means of interpreting and understanding life.
These changes we go through as a society lead into what we call eras. Simply put, an era is a chronological period of time that marks the beginning of a significant event or change. These can come in many forms, such as geological shifts that occur in a certain period of time, or in our case, in forms of art. Major art movements can be chronologically categorized in five generalized terms: Ancient art (30,000 B.C. to 400 A.D.), medieval to early renaissance art (400-1400 A.D.), renaissance to early modern art (1400-1800), modern art (1880-1970), and contemporary art (1970-present) (Esaak). Each category of art has its own influences that define the movement of art in that specific period, which in turn has given us some of the most awe inspiring pieces of art even to this day. The three pieces of art that have inspired me are “The Nightmare” by Henry Fuseli, Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs, and Josse Liefernxe’s painting “Saint Sebastian Interceding for the Plague Stricken”.
Widely regarded as Fuseli's most prominent work, The Nightmare is an oil painting created in 1781. This painting was influenced by an early pre-romantic movement named "Sturm und Drang", which was a German literary movement that dealt heavily with emotional distress, discontent, and shocking themes due to the Enlightenment era introducing rationalism (Dictionary.com Editors). Fuseli depicted the horrifying scene of a woman in the midst of a nightmare. An incubus, painted using dark colors which gives off an unsettling tone, can be seen resting upon the woman as she lies on her back. Behind the woman and the incubus is a mare draped in a deep red curtain which contrasts the white of the woman's clothing. Intending for The Nightmare to be a shocking and unusual work of art, Fuseli was able to acquire a great deal of fame following the exhibition of the painting.
Many different critiques and speculations exist that attempt to understand the meaning behind the painting itself. Theories relating to Fuseli's experience with...