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Introduction: The Journey Begins
Art has always been the reprint of the epoch, people’s thoughts and ideas. Like a distorting mirror, it shows the humankind in the most unusual, topsy-turvy way, emphasizing its crucial features in the most grotesque way. Because of the influence of the epoch, certain parallels can be drawn between Benton’s City Activities and Ringgold’s Die, the two pictures that shatter one’s vision of the modern world to the core.
It is quite peculiar that with help of certain traits of the pictures, as well as their theme, the artists managed to express the key issues of the American history – with all its great dreams, with the ideas, as grand as they can be, and the events, sometimes tragic, sometimes glorious.
Looking for Differences: The Gap Between the Artworks
Can art be intertwined with politics? Or, one’d better say, does art has the right to touch upon the political issues? Saturated with the ideas of the modern politics and concerning the most bios, extremely controversial problems of the modern era, the paintings by Ringgold and Benton were still considerably different, despite the common spirit of rebellion about them.
One of the most evident differences between the pictures is the theme that underlies them. Portraying different problems of the American society of the XX century, the two artists follow each his/her own path, which can be seen distinctly in the pictures. For instance, the outrageous racial crime depicted in Ringgold’s Die touches upon one of the most notorious America’s problems – the racial issue (Farrington 25), whereas the picture by Benton touches upon the problem of emptiness of the city life and the threat of consumerism (Doss 212).
Something to Ponder over: Is That a Coincidence?
However, taking a closer look at the pictures, one can see that there are certain details that bring the two artworks closer. What could seem a coincidence at first, becomes a distinct tendency on a second thought. The artworks in question are shot through with the essence of America, with its woes and triumphs.
What strikes immediately is the air of indifference in the pictures. Although Die, in contrast to City Activities, depicts emotion and is unstable, with people in motion, there is still the key emotion missing, which is compassion. The specific no-one-will-ever-care air pierces the picture, leaving people desperate and as if helping the riot take place. Likewise, City Activities show the spiritual emptiness, the lack of emotions in people’s souls and the unwillingness to spiritual contact. Bringing the two artworks together, this feature is a slap in the face of the American society, the reproach that no one will listen to.
Conclusion: Endless Motion
Thus, it is clear that the art is the portrayal of the history of the country. Depicting the most problematic issues in the history of the USA, the artists emphasized the issues that were to become or already were the concern of the nation. Moreover, adding their own ideas to the issues depicted, the artists offered another viewpoint on the problems, thus contributing to its solution.
Perhaps, the artworks discussed could be considered peculiar chronicles of the USA, its most important historical events and tendencies in both political and cultural life. Vivid and conspicuous, these artworks showed the American society its true face and exposing the sad but true facts. Calling to restore justice and change the society for better, these pictures proved stronger than words.
Doss, Erika. Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Print.
Farrington, Lisa E., and Faith Ringgold. Faith Ringgold. Bristol, UK: Pomegranate, 2004. Print.