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Audiences Can Better Appreciate An Artist's Work By Understanding Their Social And Historical Context. (Exam Essay 40mins)

899 words - 4 pages

Artist's interpretations of the world are shaped by their time + place, + it is important for the audience to have an understanding of this, as demonstrated y the artworks + times of Artemisia Gentileschi + Francis Bacon. Their artworks reflect their respective views + interpretations of the world in which they lived, + by familiarizing themselves with these views, interpretations and social contexts, the audience can gain a far greater understanding of these works.The art of Artemesia Gentileschi provide a unique insight into the male-dominated world of the 16th and 17th centuries. Gentileschi's personal experience of this is reflected in her paintings, particularly Judith Slaying Holofernes + her self-portrait.Gentileschi is often more famous for her personal life, as opposed to her technical skills + artistry. Her father, Orazio Gentileschi, worked with the foremost artist of the Baroque period, Caravaggio, + this is very much reflected in Gentilseschi's paitings. At the age of 19 her father put her under the instruction of Tassi, to learn architecture and perspective. The ensuing events of her rape by Tassi, + the torture she underwent at the trial remained not only an important artistic legacy for her, but her a painful reflection of the poor social status of women during that time period.At first glance, Gentileschi's artworks could appear as a standard regurgitation of myhological and religious tales, particularly, Judith Slaying Holofernes, Susannah and the Elders, Cleopatra and Lecretia, but upon delving into her life events and learning about the historical nature of her time period, the audience can come to understand the layers of meaning in these works.Judith Slaying Holofernes depicts the biblical tale of the brave, virtuous, Jewish widow Judith, who seduced and slayed the invading and treacherous Holofernes, thereby liberating her people from a potential war and occupation. This was to become a theme that echoed throughout many of Gentileschi's following paintings: the portrayal of strong women who commit good deeds by cunningly tricking bad me. Gentileschi portrays Judith as a decisive woman, capable of violence and murder, calmly beheading Holofernes with the help of her young maid (usually depicted as an old crony). Gentileschi conveyed a sense of violence and femininity by contrasting the sensual softness of the women's skin + the lush beauty of their draping gowns with the realistic splattered blood, staining the frayed, tousled white bedsheets, + the looks of combined horror, surprise + pain on the male victim's face.This artwork tells us, the audience, a lot about Gentileschi's interpretation of her brutal society + the events that happened to her. There is a very clear role reversal: physical and intellectual strength is assigned to...

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