Ever since some artist made his or her mark on an ancient cave wall, art has said: “I was here!”
These primitive etchings not only meant that people lived there; they also relayed their culture, the climate and what was important to them. As primitive as we perceive these ‘cavemen’ to be, they knew enough to pay homage to the animals that gave them sustenance.
Today, the only artwork we pay homage to is portraits of dead politicians on our money.
To prove the validity of art reflecting society, answer these two questions: Name the president depicted on the American one dollar bill? Now name the man on a Canadian one hundred dollar bill.
Yep, you’re a Canuck, eh. I’ll bet that only one in a hundred got that one.
To me this reflects just how different our two societies are. Even though we live on the same continent and speak the same language – Canadians aren’t the gun-ho, rah rah, flag wavers like our Americans cousins. Not to say that Canadians aren’t patriotic – we’re just chillin’ in the great white north, eh?
I’m sure that most of you knew that good ol’ George Washington was on the almighty Yankee dollar, and I’ll bet a loony that very few of you knew the one hundred dollar question – the man is Canadian Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden.
Artwork used to be very obvious when it depicted the riches and glory of a society, but rarely did you see the blood spilled on the canvases of history. That is until the advent of the camera.
The art of photography brought truth to historical events. Not only can this art form show humanities glory days it can also show us the gory side of mankind.
The unrelenting and bias camera means that the state can no longer dictate what we can or can’t see. No longer can those in power tell an artist what to portray.
Many societies throughout history have erected monuments and effigies to gods, heroes and their statesmen – but time and weather can erode even the hardest stone and beliefs evolve over time.
The Berlin wall is a great example of good over evil, truth over lies and freedom over oppression. On one side of the wall it was cold, grey rock covered with barbwire. On the other side of the wall people used it as a canvas to paint: “I am here!”
Art, itself can affect people in different ways. A Jackson Pollock abstract could move someone to tears, yet the person standing right next to them will look at the splashes of color and wonder, ‘what the hell?’
Art has changed and evolved with the times. Renowned master Leonardo da Vinci painted the Sistine chapel. Andy Warhol became famous for drawing soup cans back in the 1960s. Today’s best know artist is Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons. This edgy, ‘tell it like it is’, cartoon series is really a reflection of you, your family and what’s happening in your ‘Springfield’.
There will of course be those people who will be standing right next to you thinking, ‘what the hell?’
The beauty of art comes in many different forms. Architecture, gardening even the human body can be a sculpted object of living art.
Art is all around us every day, even the illustration to this column drew you in, didn’t it?