A famous Oriental painter by the name of Jean-Léon Gérôme created many works of art in the late 1800’s. His style was painstakingly naturalist and he tried “to make us forget that his art is really art, both by concealing the evidence of his touch, and, at the same time, by insisting on a plethora of authenticating details” (Nochlin, pg 72). Gérôme made a substantial impact on Oriental painting, and he was not “reflecting a readymade reality, but, like all artists, [was] producing meanings” (Nochlin, pg 73). Part of an art historians job is to depict meaning and cultural truths behind works of art. Art history, in a small sense, is looking at art to figure out the people in the painting, behind the painting, and the painter themselves. That being said, if all art is the production of meaning from a base reality, how can one truly understand the authentic meaning of a culture behind the art? How much of what art speaks is actually true to the date and time it was produced? Does the production of meaning from art speak more about a culture than a historical representation of time would? Studying the past to learn of it’s reality is by no means easy and adding artistry into the mix is an increased difficulty, however enriching the process and results are.
Michaela Stock, Hope colege 2020.
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