Evolution: More Than One Level

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Evolution: More Than One Level

The evolution of art mimics biological evolution. For this reason art history and biology are comparable in many ways. Works of art are stories. Each work of art relates to and influences other stories, or pieces of art. Ernst Mayr uses the phrase "descent with variance" throughout his book to describe biological evolution. Art behaves similarly. In addition, like biological evolution there are serious ramifications for the production of art. Because it is possible to view art from an evolutionary perspective it is also possible to look at evolution from an artistic perspective.

In the beginning there were simple cells called prokaryotes. After the prokaryotes came eukaryotes and then multicellular organisms (Mayr, 44-50). Similarly, artistic style evolves in complexity as time progresses. Take, for instance, classical art. Fifth century Greece is known for the invention of columns. These columns, which characterize the architecture of this time, are comparable to cells in that they are both basic units upon which both fields build. The earliest style is the Doric column which is plain and without much detail. After the Doric column came the Ionic column. This is a noticeably more ornate structure. Either side of the column has serpentine circles resembling eyes. Lastly, the Corinthian column is the most decadent and resembles leaves growing up at either end (Hyman and Trachtenberg, 102). The Doric column represents the simple celled prokaryote whereas the Corinthian represents multicellular organisms. Without the progression from Doric to Ionic the Corinthian would not have been possible. The Corinthian column builds from the earlier two models. However, this is not to imply that the Corint...

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...s a reminder of the interconnectedness of our planet and that the laws that govern earth are inescapable at all levels. For this reason biology and art are not mutually exclusive. It is important to recognize the qualities that these disciplines share. It is impossible to study one without gaining a profound appreciation for the other. This revelation demands that society reconsider the definition of art. Art's affect on Greek society also demands us to decide whether we value art enough to risk our own undoing.

* Quote borrowed from Octavia Butler

Works Cited:

1. Clark, Kenneth, The Nude, "The Naked and the Nude"

2. Class notes

3. Hyman, Isabelle, Trachtenberg, Marvin, Architecture: From Prehistory to Post-Modernism

4. Keuls, Eva C., The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens, New York

5. Mayr, Ernst, What Evolution Is, New York, 2001
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