Art Analysis

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Though most works of art have some underlying, deeper meaning attached to them, our first impression of their significance comes through our initial visual interpretation. When we first view a painting or a statue or other piece of art, we notice first the visual details – its size, its medium, its color, and its condition, for example – before we begin to ponder its greater significance. Indeed, these visual clues are just as important as any other interpretation or meaning of a work, for they allow us to understand just what that deeper meaning is. The expression on a statue’s face tells us the emotion and message that the artist is trying to convey. Its color, too, can provide clues: darker or lighter colors can play a role in how we judge a piece of art. The type of lines used in a piece can send different messages. A sculpture, for example, may have been carved with hard, rough lines or it may have been carved with smoother, more flowing lines that portray a kind of gentleness.

The Marble Grave Stele is a horizontal piece that was embedded in a larger piece of marble. The inscriptions of the names of who died have long been lost. Thus, we must interpret for ourselves what the full meaning of the piece is. The artist of the piece is unknown, but it was constructed in Greece in around 360 B.C. during the Classical Era and stands at 171.1 centimeters in height. Its original location, as its name suggests, was at a gravesite; currently, it is located in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Stele was carved from marble. Overall, it is in good condition; however, the body of the woman on the left is missing with only her head surviving. Its stone frame in which it was set is also missing. This frame more than lik...

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...aces. The younger man, too, also has a necklace. He is also holding a bird in his hand. The younger woman on the right carries something indiscernible in her left hand. The seated man is holding a sort of pot or vase in his left hand.

Both of these pieces of art have much in common. Their functions are almost identical. Both were used to mark burial sites and to honor the deceased buried there. The body language of both the pieces’ figures are similar, with one seated and several others standing around them. Neither has color, but unlike the grave stele, the funerary banquet does show some degree of emotion. The figures in the banquet scene have slight smiles. These pieces played an important role in their times, honoring those who had passed on to the afterlife. For both of these people, it was important to memorialize them very similar to our practices today.

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