Art is a manifestation of people’s thought processes. This is in turn influenced by the environment they live in. It is also about translating experiences of the artist into the medium of his work. It might be paintings, sculpture, music or literature but unless the artist or author has been through life and analysed the surroundings before taking up the chisel or brush, there will definitely be a creator’s block that he has to go through.
Culture is all about a way of life. And when artists live and breathe the happenings around him/her, only then can it be transformed to a work of art. This is why historians rely so heavily on art to analyse and dissect what happened in the past because art is a reflection of that.
An example will help establish this point better. Paintings of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt applying makeup or being helped to do so can be seen in many art galleries around the world. Paintings of her bathing in goats’ milk are not rare either. But a couple of hundred years down the line artists will surely paint women looking glamorous after lip injections in Melbourne if the artist is Australian. It is simply because this cosmetic process is prevailing in society at that point of time when the artist has picked up a blank canvas to put his thoughts on it.
Art is also taken to be a form of communication between societies and cultures. Artists from various strata of society have established their presence through art and have reflected the stories of their times in art form. Here too students and critics of art can find distinct influences on art form of the relevant culture of the times.
During the Renaissance period, art was primarily a depiction of religious aspects. Artists like Michael Angelo and Leonardo Vinci flourished with patronage from Kings, noblemen and the Church and their art in Sistine Chapels and other Churches draw millions of tourists from around the world to art galleries and chapels where their art is exhibited.
Cut down to the art during the Great Depression and even the layman can observe a distinct change. Art during these times depict the struggle of the working class in all its basic form sans the glamour usually associated with art. Women are depicted without makeup and without the look usually associated today after going through a session of the best eyebrow feathering in Melbourne or in any other location.
An art work is basically an expression and outlet of an artist to bring forth his inner feelings. It is also a need for self expression and fulfilment as thoughts and feelings can all be brought forth on canvas. Like every person, an artist is also influenced by the happenings around him in the era that he lives. Therefore when he expresses his inner thoughts, the prevailing times automatically surfaces and is manifested in the medium he is working on.
That art is an expression of the culture of the times is proved by a study conducted by the national Art Education Association which points out that children’s grades in maths and literacy have a positive correlation with their involvement in drama, music and other artistic pursuits.