A Comparison Of The Academy By Kent Monkman

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The two pieces of art that I have chosen to compare reside in Toronto’s ‘Art Gallery of Ontario’. While the two pieces are very different in terms of artistic medium and period, the painting, “The Academy”, by Kent Monkman, makes direct reference to Auguste Rodin’s sculpture “Adam”. The sculpture is a giant bronze cast from 1881 inspired by Michealangelo’s “Creation of Adam” Ceiling Fresco in the Sistine Chapel. “The Academy” by Canadian painter, Kent Monkman was commissioned by the AGO in 2008. The piece was created as a visual commentary on the “injustices and oppression Aboriginal people have suffered” (Filgiano) However different they may appear to be, Kent Monkman ‘borrows’ the theme of Rodin’s “Adam” sculpture to create an analogy between Adam’s banishment from paradise and the Aboriginal’s loss of paradise through colonization. Kent Monkman is an artist of ‘Aboriginal and Irish descent’ (Filgiano) who was commissioned to create a large scale Acrylic on canvas, measuring 72” x 108”.“The Academy” is a parody piece which makes reference to art created in the European tradition, alongside Aboriginal art and artifacts. It hangs in the Museum Gallery alongside some of the very pieces that are featured within it. It’s as though Monkman is playfully gossiping about his neighbors in the Gallery, both figuratively and literally. While his work is significant enough to hang in the Gallery alongside these other masterworks, Monkman makes a tongue-in-cheek observation that Academy work has historically been regarded as the only legitimate Fine Art. Traditionally, Aboriginal Art and Artifacts have been confined to separate exhibits or ancillary displays, but never alongside classical European pieces. The piece makes reference to a vast... ... middle of paper ... ...nd Post-Impressionism,p.66). Rodin’s sculpture shows Adam’s finger pointing toward the Earth, indicating the underworld or Hell as he has defied God and committed a sin. Due to Adam’s foolishness, he was banished from the utopic Garden of Eden, out of the spiritual realm, and into the physical world. Rodin borrowed his theme from Michelangelo and in turn, Monkman borrowed from Rodin; uniting a Ceiling Fresco, to a Sculpture, to a Painting on display in a modern day Gallery. The ‘idea’ is what endures through time, although the method of delivery or medium may be very different. Monkman’s painting, “The Academy”, uses this idea in a cheeky and unexpected way as commentary on Aboriginal social issues. This whimsical approach to serious matters endears Monkman to his viewers, which is likely a major reason for commissioning this piece at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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