While I have been to the Art Institute before, I always went for fun, never to actually analyze the art and compare and contrast. When I went on July 29th my main focus was to seek out the Western and non-Western pieces and observe the differences as well as the similarities. After reading the prompt for this assignment, I also became curious as to why there aren’t any Chinese paintings on display, something I had not noticed during my previous trips. The museum is pretty large, so why hide part of Chinese culture in storage? I never found out an explanation to my question, so I suppose it will still remain a mystery.
I started my trip by looking at the Western paintings from before 1600 to see the earliest records to be able to understand how they have changed overtime. The earliest paintings were a lot more colorful and detailed than I thought that they would be since they were the oldest. I assumed that as time passed, paintings would progress and get better, but they showed how artistic those were even way back in the day. In contrast to those paintings from the 1400’s which seemed to be made based upon a certain artist’s imagination, those in the 1600’s began to become more religious.
This may have contributed to the rise of the West since during this time revolutions from the church and the state were beginning which makes sense as to why paintings began to represent Christ. After getting a good idea of prominent themes from Western art, I began to look at early non-Western art to compare. While themes of Western art obviously changed over time, this was not the case for the non-Western art. Western art seemed to expand their culture over time, while the non-Western stayed more traditional.
This can also be seen to as why the West was able to rise, they were able to change their way of thinking which can be seen from the change in their art while other areas did not. This adds on to how, “Europeans’ willingness to learn from others and to try new things is the main cause of the West’s rise”. Even though this is just the art aspect, it can be seen as an example as their openness to do something different than their norm. From my trip to the Art Institute I learned something that I had not acknowledged from my previous visits.
Art is more than something to just look at for a few seconds, by actually comparing pieces from different cultures one is able to see how those in the past thought differently and get a taste of their culture and how it has changed. The greatest contributor to how the West was able to rise is definitely because of their ability to expand their culture because of their desire try unfamiliar things. Through their art you are able to see how much the West had transformed throughout the years, which proved to be very beneficial.