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The Creation and use of Nkonde Figures

1. Discuss the creation and use of Nkonde figures and their implications about African beliefs about the spirit world. (Chapter 16)

The Nkonde figures were created as a sign of commitment in the creation of any type of contract within the African society. A fetishist who was also responsible for awakening the Nkonde oversaw the ceremonies where these contracts were made.  A nail that was driven into the stature sealed the contract, and it remained there until the end of the contract. It was believed that woe would befall anybody who did not adhere to the terms of the contract. The Nkonde was also a sign of the end of a war between communities. Representatives of each community would assemble at the Nkonde figure and drive an iron nail into the figure as a sign of a peace covenant. To instill fear into the parties of the contract, the Nkonde figures were terrifying in nature in most cases having frightening faces that would have the parties thinking that the Nkonde was omnipresent. The terrifying nature of the Nkonde figures had the aim to create a sense of fear and a play on the psychology of human beings. The Nkonde figures acted as a passage to connect the world of the living and the dead. They provided the fetishist with visions of the future and helped hunt down wrongdoers in the society.

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2. What is the role of the African artist with regard to art and to society? (Chapter 16)

African art had a more spiritual role than an aesthetic one. African art was seasonal in the sense that it was replaced after it ceased its importance. Art was a crucial part of the ceremonies; in addition, it was used to immortalize significant members of the society. It was the role of artist to provide the ornament and artifacts that were used in the ceremonies. The artist was a key figure in the African society because those ornaments were of spiritual significance.

3. Discuss the inter-relationships of the styles of Neoclassicism and Romanticism in 19th century art. Select 3 works in which both styles are evident and analyze them with regard to the issue, specifically the purposes. (Chapter 17)

Neoclassicism reflects a period where art was based on rationale while romanticism portrays a period where art was based on emotion. Both styles of art were very common in the 19th century due to the enlightenment that occurred during that period. Neoclassicism art is characterized by stability in forms and a strong linear presence. Neoclassicism emphasized on the need to follow tradition and order while romanticism sought to diverge from this notion to free expression of the individual.

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Filozofia by Nicolai Abraham Abildgaard has the attributes of neoclassicism. The painting depicts a mythical goddess that is associated with neoclassicism while romanticism is seen within landscape in the background.

Cupid and Psyche by Antonio Canova is a sculpture that has mainly the features of romanticism genre but neoclassicism is also apparent with the use of human figures that resemble those of Greek mythology.

Niels Klim's Subterranean Journey by Abildgaard is another painting where both neoclassicism and romanticism are evident. Neoclassicism is showed through the heroic arts of the man in the boat as well as the ability of man to survive under severe weather conditions. Romanticism is evident because of the emotions that are portrayed on the faces of the people in the painting.

4. Discuss the similarities between the work of either Delacroix or Gericault and that of Rubens. Discuss their use of formal elements and their means of addressing the viewer. (Chapters 14, 17)

Delacroix’s works were violent in nature and can be described as having a great influence on romanticism. The works of Delacroix used small strokes with highly contrasting colors to bring out the violence in his painting. Contrast is also evident in the works of Rubens.

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The paintings of Rubens are loud and aggressive to the viewer and, in most cases, depicted anger, violence, and fierceness. Massacre at Chios by Delacroix is very similar to Rubens’ Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus in their use of color. The women used by both artists were not skinny according to the accepted standard of beauty of those days, instead, they could be described as chubby. Both works also portray mythical creatures that were at war with the humans.

5. Discuss the similarities and differences between English and American landscape painting. (Chapter 17)

            America landscape painting was a form of art that was adopted widely while, in Britain, it was adopted rather by the upper class youth. In America, it gained great acclaim to the extent that the Hudson river school of painting was formed. On the other hand, landscape painting was influenced both in America and Britain by  John Constable and J.M.W. Turner.


6. Discuss the treatment of Realism in the hands of Courbet. (Chapter 17)

Realism is an art form that is influenced by the society or environment in which the artist exists. Courbet was a son of a rich farmer but a former peasant; therefore, Courbet was aware of the different social classes that existed in France. Perhaps it was his understanding of the different classes that made him reject the rules of the French academy. Instead, Courbet’s works were paintings of the ordinary individual which was frowned upon at the time. Courbet viewed realism as the form of art through which human could achieve freedom from the chains of ideology.

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The Painter's Studio was one of the works by Courbet in which he demonstrated his orientation as a realist painter. In his painting A Burial at Ornans, he uses an ordinary event of the funeral of a respected citizen to change the genre in which paintings of ordinary people were viewed. Previously, artists represented the female art form as nymphs or goddesses; Courbet did not use abstract representations but real models in his studio.

7. Compare and contrast Manet's painting "Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe" to its inspiration, Titian's "Pastoral Concert." Discuss the formal treatment and the treatment of subject matter in each. (Chapters 13, 18)

In the Manet’s painting Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, the figures are not in touch with their surroundings. The man to the left and the nude lady are withdrawn from the happenings in their surroundings. The painting is a form of still life that tells a story within itself; this is shown by Manet’s attention to detail and use of representations that had a meaning beyond their aesthetic value. Manet’s use of color gives the painting a confrontational feel towards the viewer. Manet uses green and blue hues that are in deep contrast to the nudes of the women. Formality is introduced by the empty decanter that adds a modern feel to the rather natural painting. The painting exudes class from the brioches that are strewn from the picnic basket; the brioches depicted in the painting are the most expensive ones that were not consumed by the lower class.

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Manet’s painting is said to have been inspired by Titians Pastrol Concert, which depicts two fully clothed men and two naked women. Titian’s painting did not cause uproar as did Manet’s paintin,g because the two female figures depicted were nymphs and it was accepted for them to be nude.  It is widely believed that Manet added the pile of clothes after finishing the painting to give it a more daring look. Without the pile of clothes, Manet’s painting would just be a contemporary rendition of Titian’s Pastrol Concert. In both paintings, the female form is the subject matter although it has been used to create different scenarios. In Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, the scenario translates to one of social scandals while, in Titians Pastrol concert, it creates a mythical feel.

8. Discuss what the Impressionist artists were trying to do in their works of art and how they accomplished it. (Chapter 18)

Impressionist artist used a unique combination of light and color to depict real objects. The artist achieved this by painting the entire pieces instead of making sketches that would later be completed indoors in a studio. Impressionist artist used light and brighter colors than those previously used. Art form became shimmers and shadows in an attempt to reproduce the feeling of the outdoors. For an impressionist artist, the outdoor space was not limited to trees and landscapes but also extended to urban settings. Artists who are considered to be impressionist such as Monet, Manet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissaro among others were displeased with the classical academic teachings that laid emphasis on mythological figures. The artists used differences in color, tone, and texture. These artists shifted from the use of depth to creating a three dimensional look and the use of colors to create surface patterns.

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 9. Using at least 3 example of each type, discuss the difference between abstract and nonobjective treatments in painting from any period. (Chapters 18-20)

Abstract art refers to a painting where the subject matter encompasses a real object that has been changed to the artist’s own representation of the object. In an abstract painting, the viewer may have  a chance of identifying the object, but, in a non-objective painting, it will be difficult for the viewer to decipher the actual physical object. Non-objective paintings do not use real physical object but are a creation of the artist’s own representation.

Abstract art

The Old GuitarPplayer by Pablo Picasso was inspired by the strife that engulfed the city of Paris when he lived there.

The Rothko Chapel by Martin Rothko. Another abstract painter was Jackson Pollock who painted The Moon Woman and Umberto Boccioni who created The City Rises.

The above paintings are abstract because it is easy to identify an object from any of the figures. The figures in the paintings have just been distorted so that the artist may represent them from his own perspective.

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Non-objective art

Piet Mondrian’s Amaryllis and the Gray tree are fantastic examples of non-objective art. Georgia O’Keefe’s Summer Days is another example of a non-objective piece.

 10. Compare the painting "Improvisation #28" by Kandinsky to Goya's "Third of May, 1808." Consider the emphasis on militaristic themes and discuss whether they have similar, or dissimlar purposes,, messages, and formal means, paying particular attention to color, light, and paint handling. (Chapters 17, 19)

Goya’s painting depicts the execution of Spaniards by Napoleonic soldiers. The two paintings are dissimilar because Goya follows the rules of romanticism while Kandinsky has sought to differentiate himself from romanticism into abstract art. Kandinsky in his painting has used bright colors while Goya used softer colors.

11. Discuss the relationship between the painting of Cezanne and the Cubists. How did the former make the latter possible? (Chapters 18, 19)

Cezanne is considered to be the pioneer of cubism. Cubism is a form of abstract art where the forms have been reduced to simple objects like geometric shapes. Cezzane is quoted as saying that everything takes after a particular geometric shape. Despite the fact that impressionist artists used light to emphasize on the natural objects, Cezzane was convinced that more could be achieved. He, therefore, began to experiment spatial relationships and depth perception. The use of this perception led to the form of art where an object was represented both from the perspectives of the right and left eyes. This innovation by Cezzane formed the foundation of the cubist movement where an object was represented from different viewpoints.

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12. Discuss the theory and the program in the cooperative at the Bauhaus and how it changed architecture. (Chapter 19)

Bauhaus is a school that wanted to create a unique output by combining the craftsman and the fine artist. The Bauhaus is considered to be the pioneer school of design. The Bauhaus had three pillars to ensure that creativity flourished. This included adopting a craft, drawing and painting, and science and theory was the last. The Bauhaus taught its students to be all-round members of the society by including all field in their education. The subject taught in this school included the art of negotiating contracts and accounting as well as physics. The Bauhaus educated its students on the analysis of house construction by introducing a curriculum in 1925 where artistically gifted students were taught house construction.

13. Discuss the appropriation of found materials and the implications of associated mechanical processes in the found objects which are brought to bear in Duchamp's "Large Glass." (Chapter 19)

According to Duchamp, the large glass is a piece of art work that brought together different materials in an abstract manner. They represent the different and the very diverse emotions of human beings which are always in collision. This means that the large glass is not a static piece of art but one where the components are in constant interaction with each other. It is also called The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors because it is a representation of the effects of female desires on her male suitors. The components tell a comical story of the obstacles that they all have to overcome in order to achieve the ultimate result: consummation. However, in this piece the outcome is not certain. The fate machine is Duchamp’s attempt to show the interaction between fate and chance. The forces are in  opposing sides where the bride occupies the top half and the groom the bottom half, and there is a horizon in between them. This shows how male and female emotions are on opposing sides of the spectrum.











14. How are the works of the Abstract Expressionists related to that of their predecessors among the Post-Impressionists. (Chapters 18, 20)

 Post impressionists incorporated elements that they felt were missing from the works of the impressionists. They included geometric shapes and elements of emotion and structure. Impressionist also included cubism, which introduced the form of painting an object from different angles. This form did not follow the rules of Renaissance art just like abstract artist. Abstract art did not also confine itself to the rules of art, and artists only painted out of emotion.

15. How does assemblage draw on earlier methods of producing art? Discuss at least one assemblage to at least one work from the period prior to 1930. (Chapter 20)

Assemblage is the form of art where objects are created from the collection of other objects. It is compared with other forms of art because it borrows elements from other art forms to create a whole new figure while other forms borrowed inspiration. Some artists used inspiration drawn from various other objects assemblage while some artists used the actual objects. Vladamir Tatlin attempted to create a large tower made out of several types of materials. It was to be named The Monument to the Third International.

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16. Discuss the relationship between form and content in the work "Target with Four Faces" by Jasper Johns. Consider the importance of each aspect. (Chapter 20)

It is a non-objective painting that encompasses both geometric and expressive abstraction that merges objective realism to abstract form. The use of body parts that are detached from the whole body depicts them as abstract and create lee-way for the body parts to be defined as something that is unfamiliar.

17. While the work of artists in American dominated the world of art in the post WWII period, in recent years international trends have re-emerged. Discuss this and consider the conditions which facilitate it. Also consider they ways in which these works refer to past traditions and the reasons why this is so. (Chapter 20)

The art that existed in America after the war was largely influenced by the political instability of the time. Naturally, as a country rebuilds itself after a war, there is a sense of hope and justice. However, today, even decades after the war, justice has not been achieved for all and thus remains elusive. The trends have re-emerged to show that the ideals held in the immediate post-war period are false and unachievable. Today, art does not wish to be confined within the description used in the post-war period, but it desires to be a form of free expression.

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