Globalization and Social Change Through Art Essay

Globalization and Social Change Through Art Essay

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While artistic style is well known to have altered and developed over the course of history, the individual and often secondary objects depicted within a piece of artwork can illustrate just as much about the era of history as the overall style and image as a whole. In the words of Timothy Brooks, the author of Vermeer’s Hat, “If we think of the objects in them not as props behind windows but as doors to open, then we will find ourselves in passageways leading to discoveries about the seventeenth century world that the paintings on their own don’t acknowledge.” Throughout Vermeer’s Hat Brooks does just this as he explores the singular, seemingly unimportant details of a painting to explain the driving force of European history at that point. During the seventeenth century, the world was facing an explosion of change due to the expansion of world trade that caused the collision of previously separate societies. While many historians view history through the lens of a few powerful political figures, Brooks takes a much more indirect but still effective approach to the details of globalization and how they affected common life in Europe at that time. Throughout Vermeer’s Hat, Timothy Brooks utilizes artwork to demonstrate how the European expansion of global trade, particularly with the Chinese, drove the economic, technological, and social changes in the lives of the European masses during the seventeenth century.
Economically, the world as a whole was shifting due to the new markets in world trade from globalization. As trade with the world expanded, the ability of the common people of Europe to afford expensive luxury goods that had normally been restricted to the wealthy who participated in conspicuous consumption. With t...


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...s, Brooks gives a more personal and gripping account of history that is refreshing in comparison to what is found in many history books. When investigating eras of history which bring sweeping change to the entire world, looking beyond the powerful elite into the lives of the individuals who dealt with and pushed for the changes presents an opportunity to understand what drove these individuals to make changes. Europe in the seventeenth century experience radical changes economically, technologically, and socially as a result of globalization; these changes, both good and bad, would shape and prepare it for further changes in the coming years. In writing Vermeer’s Hat, Timothy Brooks truly grasps the power of looking at these changes through art as a door into the lives of the individuals in the European masses.



Works Cited

Timothy Brooks, Vermeer's Hat

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