“Blazing Saddles” takes the rugged and rough stylings of western movies and uses is as it’s backdrop for highlighting the hypocrisy of the idea that Caucasian Americans are sole responsible creation of the US. It lures you in with the old myth of the grandeur of pioneer theme of setting of the film. Done in a classic satirical method, the scene is set in a dusty and old country side with classic folksy music. Indeed, the music reminds one of TV shows like “Bonanza” or Disney’s “Davy Crocket” movie.
For first time viewers of this movie, it starts out feeling like a campy version of a run of the mill film on the indomitable frontier spirit. However, the film quickly flips the concept of the old western on its head. The hero is not the silent, rough and tough white hero but rather a smart mouth, clever black man. To its polar opposite, the white folks in the film are borderline idiots; the point is emphasized almost as soon as the film starts out. In a scene where the ranch hands are attempting to teach the black workers how to sing songs to entertains them, the tables are quickly turned and their tricked into dancing around like fools for the group of black men to laugh at.
Racism is depicted everywhere throughout the film but rather then it come for as the abasing superior language, it comes off as feeble and pathetic, as perpetrated by ignorant people who only see color rather than the value of a man. This point is highlighted when the hero of the film is insulted by an old woman earlier in the film but later, after he saves the town, apologizes to the Sheriff for her racism. Ironically, her apology comes with the warning not to tell anyone one of it; her acceptance of a black man as Sheriff is still looked down upon by the townsfolk.
It also took a shot at sexuality and the stereotypical depiction of men being manipulated by women. Another attempt at taking down the Sheriff was to send a famous woman performer to seduce him but instead, she falls in love with him. Once again, a classic western plot device is flipped on its head and the main character survives it, not because of his impeccable character or moral strength but because of his sexuality. Sex is the weapon in this battle but his “guns” are better than hers”.
For subject matter, the movie uses a lot of comedy to make it palatable for the viewer. Scenes like where the Sheriff holds himself hostage to saves himself from a mob or he defeats an almost indestructible henchman with an exploding candy gram make the harsher reality of the film from scaring away the viewer with the deeper subject. For every moment of seriousness, there is a moment of satirical humor to take the cruelty out of the moment and use it against itself. At the same time, it illustrates the foolishness of such thinking and pushes the film forward towards the more ridiculous.
Ultimately, the film ends with the director letting the audience know how ridiculous everything about this film is. The final battle breaks out and the fourth wall is broken as the brawl moves out from the set, into the film studio, and beyond. The scenes change from breaking into another movie set, to the studio cafeteria, and eventually to a movie theater where the movie they are making is playing. While in the film ends in a more traditional scene of the hero riding out to the sunset, he watched it with his sidekick in the theater; A final reminder to the audience that the western ideal the film is satirizing only exist in the movie world.
Blazing Saddles. Warner Bros. Pictures, 1974. Film.
Davy Crockett. Walt Disney Productions, 1954. Film.
The Post Modern art world is heavily with influences from all different cultures and ideas. Many of these ideas seem embedded throughout the culture in many ways, from literature to movies. Most recently, the medium of comic books have seemed to permeate pop culture in the United States. Its influences are unmistakable and far reaching throughout the culture. It is also interestingly created in collaboration rather than solo pieces like many other mediums involving paintings or drawings. The artwork created is directly influenced by the writer’s story, giving it a desired mood and informing the styling’s of the artist who’s drew the characters of each story. This gives each panel of artwork a new meaning and in return, gives the story new depth and dimension.
One of the first pieces of art that reflected the mood and direction of culture at the time is Alan Moore’s “The Watchmen”. At story of the darker times during the Cold War Era, the artwork of Dave Gibbons perfectly depicts the cynicalism of the world of the characters. Even without a back story to this particular panel, the Comedian is seemed thoroughly immersed in dark pleasure of the brutality of some act. This dark humor is captured intensely in the sickly grin on his face and the grittiness of the drawing makes you feel as though only darkness surrounds him.Comic movies in the Post Modern era also reflected the desires of the times. The movie “Superman: The Movie” seems to reflect the mood of the Cold War but also a rejection of the darker side of society that seems to have taken hold following years disillusion from the anti-war and youth movements of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The screenplay written by Mario Puzo brings back the image of the golden age of comics. Here, a more innocent and wholesome character comes to save the say, perhaps speaking to an undertow within society to return to more decent times. The movie “Superman” gave society something they craved at the time: the “All American Wholesome” hero, representing both the best of American and the idealized morals depicted from a time gone by. The poster promotes this idea with grey cloudy background being broken up with a ray of color and hope; salvation from up above.
While Watchmen depicted a “hero” rejecting good in dark times and becoming one with it, “The Dark Knight Returns” took a good wholesome character and took it a different direction. While the Comedian was just as dark, it was understood within the literature that he was a sadist and dark character whose actions were equal parts cruel and self-indulgent. Frank Miller reinvented Batman instead into a dark hero who only did what is considered necessary, even if it was brutality at extremes to fight the evil of the times. Illustrated here by Frank Miller himself, Batman is old and tattered looking, while looking grim and angry. You can feel the anguish and pain from the character with none of the pleasure seen in the Comedian; this is business, not pleasure. This story and artwork seems to feel that this is the hero America needs: uncompromising and brutal justice. This is in deep contrast to Superman, Batman is a righteous man willing to do what is necessary, even if it is violent extremes.
Sadly, little innovation took place in the 1990’s. During the 90’s, comics, both their stories and their artwork, became stagnant and repetitive. This was due to the many attempting to use the old successful model for stories to repeat the successes of the past. This is seen in the stream of Batman movies (like the very unpopular “Batman and Robin” film by director Joel Schumacher), trying to capitalize on the success of the darker reboot of the character in the 1989 film “Batman” or the string of Superman movies that were equally disappointing and added nothing to the genre. The comic books and the art within suffered as well, as artwork was created that was amazing but unoriginal or creative. This is perhaps due to the more upbeat and positive look of society at the time. The Cold War was over, the war against the organized crime was proving successful and the economy of the US was at a high point. This created an environment of complacency in society that seems to have unfortunately bled into the art of comics during the era.
However, by the early part of the next century, the industry and its artwork became active again and reflected once again the turmoil of society. Following the attacks of 9-11, comics took a more chaotic turn. Marvel, a major comic company seems to have reflected this mood most accurately. Seen here in a storyline by Mark Miller called Civil War, two of the company’s major characters fight representing the two conflicting ideas of the times. The artist, Steve McNiven , here depicts Captain America representing social freedoms and rights while Iron Man reflects the government’s increased controlling and authoritative stance following 9-11. All around them are the victims of both their policies as the conflict carries on. Neither side is depicted as villain or hero. Instead, only message that the image carries is one of tragedy and futility. This battle still carries on today; the idea of freedoms being surrendered to provide security.
This return to darker social policies is also reflected in a darker version of Batman in the Dark Knight series. Here, much like the “Dark Knight Returns” artwork, Christopher Nolan’s films seems to reinforce the ideas of more control and violence from an authoritative figure to protect the greater good. The “dark hero for dark times” theme seems to flow into the “Man of Steel” movie, which takes the wholesome image of Superman and creates one where only extreme measures can save the day.
Other comic movies seem to take another stance on authoritative control, such as “Captain American: Winter Soldier”. Here, Joe Russo’s film depicts SHIELD, the organization that protects the world, as corrupt and dangerous. This seems to be highlighted by the fact that the Winter Soldier is the pinnacle of corruption on a once decent man. Its secrets endanger the world and only dismantling it can truly save the day. However, the victory is hardly that as the loss of SHIELD opens up the world to new threats. The film seems to be a commentary on the double-sided nature of freedom. Comic art and the different media it inspires seems to have no lack of commentary on the world around it, proving to be a worthy representative of the Post Modern art form of the times.
Millar, Mark, and Steve McNiven. Civil War: A Marvel Comics Event. Direct ed. New York, NY: Marvel Pub., 2007. Print.
Miller, Frank. Batman : The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley. 10th Anniversary ed. DC Comics: New York ;, 1996. Print.
Moore, Alan, and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. The Deluxe ed. DC Comics; Reprint Edition, 2014. Print.
Batman Begins. Warner Home Video, 2005. DVD.
Batman & Robin . Homer Warner Video, 1997. film.
Captain America, the Winter Soldier. Distributed by Walt Disney, 2014. Film.
Woodrow Wilson once said that World War I was the “war to end all wars”. And yet, it did no such thing. However, it was one of the first conflicts to truly change the public’s opinion on the value of warfare and its destructive nature. Perhaps because of the more censored opinions of war, art up this point in history hardly reflected an opinion of disgust or offense against the idea of war. Instead, battles and the prowess of men waging these battles were many times glorified and often treated as something to aspire to. The ideas of patriotism, duty, honor, and courage were tied into the artwork of war; real men were expected to want to be part of this idealized concept of war and glory. While the politics from the late 19th and early 20th century saw the beginning of a movement where the artist detached himself from old world ideas and concepts, it was the First World War changed this really impacted the evaluation of the perspective on war. The change in the public opinion on warfare found its self embedded in the artwork of the early modern era. Many artists, disgusted with the atrocities of war now reflected the ideas of what art should be. The disconnect between the ideas glorifying war set side by side with the realities of war created a cynical view to war.
An example of this cynicalism is “Artillerymen” (Das Soldatenbad, 1915) by Fritz Bleyl. The soldiers in the painting are depicted in such a way that they seem weak and seem more like prisoners rather than powerful warriors. The structure of the soldier’s bodies give way to strokes of the brush that provides them with an anemic look and the colors seems to give the entire scene a grime and dirty look. The room itself looks too small for the crowd of soldiers showering while the soldier in charge seems to be the only one with a commanding presence or authority.
Most artwork however, did not rebel directly against the military war complex or the perceived social inflexibility of the times. Removing structure and turning their backs on realism in exchange for more expressionistic forms of art, artist like Henri Matisse created an art form that conveyed more visceral emotion. His work “Luxury, Calm and Pleasure” (Luxe, Calme et Volupté, 1904) leaves behind the conventional methods are the time and creates a more colorful and fluid piece of artwork. The colors gives it painting a balmy and warm afternoon feel to a day on the while the almost liquid properties of the shapes make the say seem relaxing and enjoyable. The painting trades off shape and form of scenery for emotion and intensity, creating something new and unique at the same time in the Fauvism style.
The diversity of the artists the era led to some who did not always agree with their counterparts of the era with the ideas against the more conventional the political ideology of the day. Some, like Erich Heckel, served during World War I out of a sense of duty and nationalism. However, impressions of the war did inform his style and his subject matter. His woodcut “Wounded Sailor” (Verwundeter Matrose, 1915) depicts a sailor wounded during World War I and in contrast with the heroic posters and images of the day. Created from some of his experiences from his time as a medic, here the sailor looks down trotted and defeated. The sharp angular method of the woodcut gives the sailor very focused appearance while his eyes seem defeated and almost hopeless.
The artwork of the era before and surrounding World War I, at times seems less about rebellion or disregarding the past and more about a view that the world seems to be broken or fractured. These pieces of art speak of a time where society is coming to the realization that the world is evolving into something beyond their conventional understanding. Between happiness and emotion, that defies structure and order to works so vividly harsh and violent that reality seems to fracture, the artwork of this era almost seems in painful from the intensity of it. While World War I might not have been “the war to end all wars”, it seems to have been the birth of the modern era, full with the happiness, intensity, and pain that accompanies any childbirth.
Impressionism and post-impressionism are weird forms of art to me. By this, I mean that they work in reverse of what art has done up to this point. In previous forms of art, the paintings invoke emotions into the audience but in both impressionism and post-impressionism, it is the artist’s emotions that are on display. At the same time, both forms of art take reality and give it a surreal feel to shape the emotions is in the warped perspective of colors and images. This is different from say, the Baroque era, where artist like Caravaggio used shades and light combined with color to create emotion within the subjects. Not only that, but works like “Bacchus” instead used gritty realism to evoke emotions with the audience rather then what the artist felt about the subject matter. Impressionism is the departure from the restraints of both the harshness of reality and the concerns for what emotions were drawn out from the audience. The audience was now less importance, while the artist’s view the world became more central to the art form.
A popular piece, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” makes you feel the intense emotions of looking up at the night sky rather than focusing on the beauty of the night. Not to say that the painting is not beautiful but it is not really a painting of the night but rather the emotions Van Gogh felt about the night sky. The entirety of the painting is about emotion; from the brush strokes that give the darkness swirling shapes of wind and palatable ether to the waxy feel of the light of the star and the moon reflected in the air around them. The emotions about the sky are real even if the painting of the sky itself lacks any realism. A more detached look at the painting allows the observer see to more cartoonish appearance of the work. It has moved beyond the realm of the real to the outlandish and absurd in that respect.
Another piece I would like to compare “Starry Night” to is an impressionist piece but of more recent times. “Sunny October” by Leonid Afremov is a great piece of work done in the style of the impressionism. Similar to Van Gogh’s piece, it full of emotion and the paint, while not laid down with a brush, are thick and give the image a choppy look and more surreal appearance. However, stepping back from the painting, it looks more a real world image; a vibrant snapshot of the world in color. This contrast to the “Starry Night” that, while it shares the use of color and the heavy laying of paint, the picture is cohesive in its subject. Emotion is in the style and color but it does not change the overall appearance of the image. In other words, post impressionism is art where the emotions of the artist are so centric to the painting that it disrupts the reality of the image where as impressionism seems to seem to want to imbue the paintings with their emotions but not at the expensive of forgetting the importance of what they’re painting. One could argue that this was a foreshadowing of society’s progression of being concerned with the world around us and more about what we have to say about ourselves.
The revolutionary war inspired many changes in the arts the colonials created. Their new nation called seemed the culmination of centuries of wisdom to create a new form of government. The new country was a hybrid of democratic republic, an experiment based off the old Greek and Roman governance and combined with the new philosophies of the day. This set the mood for a revival of the old arts of the Greeks to help shape the face of this new republic.
One of the first influences was in the architecture. Thomas Jefferson during a period as ambassador in France had seen the amazing architecture of the Renaissance. In 1768, he drew upon this experience to design the Monticello House. His home was his experimentation in architecture, where he refined his skills as an architect and helped introduce Neo Classical designs to the colonies.
In 1785, he designed the Virginia State Capital Building, a beautiful structure, also heavily influenced in Roman designs. The design of the structure was based on Corinthian temple, the Maison Carree. It’s appearance is supposed to inspire a sense of order and gravitas in those who look upon it.
Paintings were also influenced by resolution of the war. The victory of the Revolutionary War inspired great patriotic feelings for the new fledging nation. Paintings were now heavily laced with imagery that inspired heroism and selfless sacrifice.
John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, (1778) is an example of this. A work based on attempt to save a fellow shipmate from a shark attack makes the shipmates appear courageous and valiant in their attempt to fight off the shark and save their comrade.
The Battle of La Hogue (1778) is another example, where the artist Benjamin West aids heroism and courage to the Admiral in the painting during the battle. This kind of artwork serves to not only stir patriotic emotion, but also demonstrate a sense of duty and sacrifice in the audience.
The Revolution might have been the culmination of both the revival of old studies of government and philosophy as well as a shift in the political environment of the Europe but the war itself spur on new changes in Art and culture. From a new sense of nationalism to a more heroic view of action in battle, the neo classical movement was defined by the feelings and emotions of a country attempting to portray its new views on government and a retrieval of the Roman ideals of heroism and honor. In the poetic and reinvented visual history of men and events, they hoped to inspire those acts and emotions to real people of their time.
The Beheading of John the Baptist feels like not only a result of the Baroque era but a representation of it. While many beautiful pieces of art were created during the period, Caravaggio seems to see the world from the common’s eyes. In the painting, John was brutally pinned down and had his neck open sliced like as if he were an animal. One man overlooking the execution while the other seems focused on the task with mild disinterest. An old woman cries for John while those not involved in the execution only look on with mild curiosity as if this was no unheard of or uncommon. The prison they are in looks dark and gritty, but somehow not unclean. It looks like what a prison of the era should look like; everything seems mundane and average about the entire seen. It does not look like a massive turning point in the bible about a relatively important character. It looks like John could be anyone, on any given day, being beheaded for any crime.
After the end of the Renaissance, the politics of Europe takes a darker path. The Catholic Church starts to loss its influence and the continent seems to breakout in war over faith and power. The rise of the merchant class changes the dynamics of how people see themselves while the proliferation of the Bible allowed many to question the Catholic Church’s interpretation of the Bible. Protestant and Puritans agenda of expanding their interpretation of the Bible worked in stride with many Royals to throw off the constraints of the Catholic Church. The Thirty Year war was the culmination of this power struggle but created that dark and murky world that Caravaggio works in: the purity of the Catholic Church is questioned and the nations of Europe are fragmented and in disarray.
The decline in the power of the Catholic Church left it looking to reinvent its image and a way to reach its main audience, the common people. The Council of Trent was formed in 1545 to it held sessions until 1563 to help reinvent the way the Catholic Church appeared to and reached the commoner. They realized that the complexity of the works during the end of the Renaissance and the Mannerism period created a gap between the people and the church; the artwork was intended for the educated and rich, not the average person. While the Puritans and Protestants rallied against the creation of art in representation of God’s word (along with abuse of power and corruption), the Counsel realized that the use of the artwork could draw people back to the church and help them see the connection in the stories of the Bible since illiteracy was common. Moreover, the artwork needed to connect in an emotional level with their audience.
This meant bring the revered down the level of the commoner; down into the practical, the faded, the dingy and human world. It meant taking the art into a world where pain was real, hardships were commonplace, and tragedy was usually unnoticed and background noise. Here is where Michelangelo Caravaggio comes into play. While The Beheading of John the Baptism seems to culminate all this influences, all of his other works capture either one aspect of this or another. In his works, the people and things fade, rot, and decay. The holy figures are mingled with the world around them and feel flawed and burdened by their sins, much like the people he was trying to connect to. Many times, Caravaggio took his subjects from the seedier parts of his world. In The Calling of St. Matthew, Jesus finds Matthew in a bar with gamblers, drunks, and thieves.
With this more comprehensive understanding of the era, The Beheading of John the Baptist seems to capture the era best for me. John is much like the Catholic Church; dragged down from its elevated status on the desires of Royals in positions of power. The executioners carrying out this harsh punishment could be the Protestants and the Puritans completing their perceived duty to spread and protect the word of God against the tampering of the Catholic Church. Even the commoners could be interpreted as being in the painting, looking on from a distance. They seem curious but ultimately incapable of doing anything one way or another; just watch. The old woman could represent a commoner or even someone with higher social status, realizing that the execution is wrong but also unable to do anything about it but watch in horror. While the power changed hands throughout Europe, the world seem to take more dramatic and darker tone in the lives of not just the Royalty and elite, but the average person as well.
Mayor, A. Hyatt. “The Art of the Counter Reformation.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4.4 (1945): 101-05. JSTOR. Web. 22 June 2015. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3257265.
The Renaissance seems to be the start of the modern era in the Western world. Before the resurgence of art and literature from the ancient civilizations, the Catholic Church moderated Europe’s society. While the Catholic Church did a great many of things, it did not inspire the exploration of the individual or the idea of aspiring to living in a more elevated state then the current status quo. It was the studying of ancient text and documents from the past that led to a change away from the church; an exploration of the value of a person that was called Humanism.
The Medici Family in Florence was probably not the first but the most successful at using the old to influence the new. After helping Pope John XXIII rise to power, the Medici family became the bankers of the Church, spreading throughout Europe. As their financial grew, they expanded their political power through patronage and the elevation of the arts. The Florence Cathedral was the first of this demonstration of power and at the same time, an example of using the past to help build the future. The Cathedral had been left incomplete for years and no one had been able to finish the structure due to its size. Filippo Brunelleschi solved the issue of the dome by drawing upon Greece architecture and mathematics to resolve the issue. This and many other forms of art expanded throughout Europe thanks to the Medici family.
The Catholic Church was also affected by this modernization of building and art and many Popes strove to beautify the works of Rome with this new artform. From Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel to new sculptures like Pieta, Rome was transforms to a more vibrant and modern city. However, this spurred on the fall from power of the church, as it angered many other religious individuals at this time.
With the innovations that came with the Renaissance, one of the more important ones was the printing press. This help spread and share the knowledge of the old world as well at the new ideas of the times. However, a darker side to this was the Reformation, where dissenters to the teaching and policies of the Catholic Church spread their ideas throughout Europe. Many used this as an political opportunity to undermine the power of the Church (like the King Henry the VIII) and establish their own church.
My opinion on the Renaissance and the revolution in art and architecture was that it was amazing. The world before it had little care about the average man and while it still failed to truly elevate the layperson, they became almost central to the art of the time. Even artwork of religious figures like Mary and Jesus became less supernatural and more human, distinguished only from their surroundings as unique or special by perhaps a halo, if even that. At the same time, the abuses of this expanded knowledge and art is a bit disgusting. King Henry’s break from the church was not founded on loss of faith in the Catholic Church but rather, to divorce his spouse and not lose any political power. Conversely, the fact that the Catholic Church was so embedded in political matters seems repulsive while the most disturbing of these actions are how they manipulate the faith and emotions of the common man to obtain their own person goals; goals that are all hypocritically against the very nature and idealism of the Humanism movement they exploit.
Hello, my name is Wenceslao Ruiz. I’m a part time student at UAF. I started taking courses at UAF years ago (when I was still stationed there) but since then, the Army has taken me abroad to the country of Germany. It’s pleasant enough here and the people are actually pretty nice here (opinions may very) but nothing beats living in the US (if you ask me) and I’m eager to return back there. I’ve actually hit upon a bit of luck. I’m suppose to be returning to Alaska soon and I’m looking forward to it. To me, Fairbanks feels like home and I’ve missed it greatly over the years. I’ve returned once or twice but it’s not quite the same as living there and being part of the community. And my family is eager to go back as well. My wife especially; she grew up there she’s missed it since she set her first footstep on the plane departing. So other then that kind of quick snapshot of myself, I guess I should give some stats on my self: I’m a Soldier in the Army and I’ve been serving for 15 years now. Some say this is the downward slope but I feels like an upward climb to me. Still, my family supports me in what needs to be done and keep me in check. I have a wife, 7 children (4 with me and 3 with my ex-wife), 2 dogs, and one cat. Well that’s me in the short and sweet.
2. Upload an image of your choosing.
3. Describe in a paragraph your relationship to art. Do you paint, sculpt or draw? Do you play an instrument, write music, or participate in live theater? Have you done film making? What are some of your experiences in viewing art, music or theater as an audience member?
I’m not actually much of an artist. I used to draw when I was younger and I was “ok” at it. For a while, I was a baker and that felt like art; creating delicious food stuff that people really seem to enjoy. But it’s been years since I baked anything and almost as much since I did anything google artistically when it comes drawing. My passion I suppose would be fixing things. I’m a tinkerer and an overall handyman. Whether it’s a car or a kid’s toy, I feel pleasure for making things work again. I’m not sure if that counts as art but otherwise, I’m artistically tone deaf. Other than that, I watch movies and tv shows like the average viewer but I’m not a connoisseur of any particular performance art form though I have seen the occasional play or musical. Still, those didn’t particularly arouse any feels of overwhelming need or desire to follow up with more of the same.
4. A link to content on the web that relates to the arts. You may also choose to embed a video.