“A ideology and power. Augustus is idealized; he is

“A work
of art is useless as a flower is useless.” (Oscar Wilde). In its essence, a
flower is useless; it serves no practical purpose. But, the experience we gain
from a flower, the moment of happiness from looking at it and smelling it, is
essential to human life. This indispensable, pleasing experience of marveling at
and inhaling the aroma of a flower is equivalent to the experience of viewing
art. Art, in its futility, illustrates alternate ways of living and
thinking.  Most importantly, art
demonstrates that the justification for human existence expands beyond the daily
obligations of life. Art is a powerful entity; through its beauty it evokes an
emotional response, recalls history, aids in communication, and unites people

            Emotions, which supercharge our
existence and make us feel alive in a drab world are triggered by art. Using
color, line, value, texture and form, art arouses emotions within us. Gazing at
Vincent van Gogh’s renowned Starry Night,
with its thick, swirling brush strokes and vibrant hues of blues, greens, and
yellows, we feel at peace, agitated, and isolated simultaneously. The swirling
strokes give the impression that the painting is constantly moving, at a gentle
pace.  The luminous stars and immense sky
contrast with the small, dark, quiet village, leaving a feeling of isolation
and awe as we gaze into the vast night sky. 
Thoughts about life and its evanescence, the beauty of creation, and the
insignificance of man compared to the universe we live in all flit through my
mind when I look at Starry Night. Through
use of simple artistic elements, a work of art is capable of arousing
innumerous emotions and thoughts.

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            Art is a natural human behavior; it
is a part of who we are.  It has been
created since the beginning of time and will always be created. Art is the
window to the past. From the earliest cave man figure drawings depicting the
hunt, the pieces left behind by artists allow us to learn what was important to
the people, how they wanted to be remembered. We gain new perspectives and
relive the period the art was created in. 
 Beholding the marble statue Augustus of Primaporta, we are
transported back to the first century CE. The sculpture appears to be a
portrait of Augustus as the first emperor of the Roman Empire, an orator and
general, but it is also a portrait of Augustus’ ideology and power. Augustus is
idealized; he is portrayed as youthful and virile. Additionally, his
contrapposto pose and flawlessness resembles Greek sculptures. By modeling
himself after iconic sculptures created during Greece’s height of influence and
power, Augustus is portraying his supremacy and favorably comparing his empire
to the refined and powerful Greek empire which preceded it. Augustus wears army
regalia decorated with deities to show that he supports traditional Roman
religion and is favorable to the gods. The sculpture allows us to relieve
history and find connections to the past.

            Art is its own language. For
centuries art has been a mode of communication. Art allows us to have a full
range of expression. When words do not suffice, and if we did not have art, the
messages and feelings that a person wishes to convey could never be expressed. As
the classic idiom goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The tremulous and
complicated inner emotions of a human being are often difficult to convey. Edvard
Munch succeeds in utilizing external means to express his internal emotions. He
creates an image that is universally recognized and felt. Against a dramatic swirling
sky of reds and blues, a ghastly androgynous figure with a skull-shaped head,
stretched hands, broad eyes, flaring nostrils, and screaming mouth stands on a
bridge. This iconic painting illustrates a universally felt emotion- fear.
Munch’s The Scream plays with the
experience of synesthesia, the unification of senses.  We can hear the scream coming from the figure
and can feel its anxiety, fear, and melancholy through Munch’s brushstrokes and
choices of color and imagery. We understand what Munch wants us to know.
Hundreds of words could still not completely express the feelings communicated
by Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Art has
an incredible capability to express its message universally across language and
cultural barriers.

In every community art is present. Art unites us because it is a
shared experience. Art connects people across the world because we transcend
cultural differences, and what is captured in art is what it means to be
distinctively human.  Art allows us to
share emotions even if we do not speak the language of the person standing next
to us viewing it. Art allows us to bond with the past generations by showing us
what was happening in the lives of people many years before our existence. Art
tells a story without words allowing the story to be shared by many people of
different races and cultures. The experience of looking at art is essential to
human life. While art in itself is fundamentally useless, without it, we would
not be human; we could not live. We need the aesthetic experience of gazing at
a beautiful, intriguing piece of art to fully exist.