Art Discussion

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Discussion 1:

Tracking the Changes in Visual Culture

Saint Augustine is credited with saying, “The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”

In your readings this week, you explored the development of a new religion called Christianity.

Most religions base their rituals, imagery, and dogma on earlier religious sects. This helped make the transition easier for the new converts. In the case of the early Christians, they looked to the polytheistic practices and holidays of the Romans as well as the Jewish belief structure as outlined in the Old Testament.

For this week’s discussion, let us look at how many examples of repurposing we can find. What rituals, holidays, icons, and symbols can we identify as having their foundations in one of the other religions we read about this week? Let us see what we can find.

Discussion 2: ( See attachment)

Art Reaction Journal

Discussion Introduction

Chapter 3 in our An Introduction to Art Criticism textbook introduced us to interpretation and analysis. For this discussion, apply what you read to critically analyze a work of Jewish, Christian, or Islamic art, using some of the language of art analysis.

Here is a review of the four-step process:

  1. Name and describe the facts. Simply identify the objects in the artwork by describing what you see.
  2. Analyze the facts. Using the language of art, describe what elements of the artwork catch your attention. These could be elements such as shapes, lines, colors, or textures.
  3. Interpret the evidence. Based upon what you learned in steps 1 and 2, what do you think the artwork is about? What ideas, moods, emotions, messages, or stories do you think the artwork communicates?
  4. Judge the work of art. Do the objects, elements, and meaning of the artwork achieve the desired result, in comparison with other works of art?


For this discussion, select one image from any of those found in Chapters 7, 8, and 9 in your Art History text. Be sure to cite your reference so that we can follow your critical analysis. Follow the four-step process to describe, analyze, interpret, and judge your chosen image. Format resources and citations according to current APA style and formatting. Post your results in the discussion area.

Info from image:

The Dome of the Rock

In the center of Jerusalem rises the Haram al-Sharif (“Noble Sanctuary”), a rocky outcrop from which Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to the presence of God on the “Night Journey” described in the Qur’an, as well as the site of the First and Second Jewish Temples. Jews and Christians variously associate this place with Solomon, the site of the creation of Adam, and the place where the patriarch Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac at the command of God. In 691–692, a domed shrine was built over the rock (fig. 9–3), employing artists trained in the Byzantine tradition to create the first great monument of Islamic art. By assertively appropriating a site holy to Jews and Christians, the Dome of the Rock manifested Islam’s view of itself as completing and superseding the prophecies of those faiths.

9–3a exterior view of the dome of the rock, jerusalem

The gleaming dome sits atop a drum with intricately painted sides, which in turn sits atop an octagonal structure, painted in a matching theme. The blue background of the drum and lower structure nearly match the blue of the clear sky seen behind them.

Israel. Begun 691.

Credit: © Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

9–3b cutaway drawing of the dome of the rock, jerusalem

Inside the shrine, the red-floored ambulatory surrounds the intricately painted and carved rotunda, in turn constructed around a large boulder at the center of the structure, under the high golden dome.

Israel. Begun 691.

Credit: © Dorling Kindersley

Structurally, the Dome of the Rock imitates the centrally planned form of Early Christian and Byzantine martyria (see figs. 7–14, 8–5). However, unlike the plain exteriors of its models, it is crowned by a golden dome that dominates the skyline. The ceramic tiles on the lower portion of the exterior were added later, but the opulent marble veneer and mosaics of the interior are original. The dome, surmounting a circular drum pierced with windows and supported by arcades of alternating piers and columns, covers the central space containing the rock (fig. 9–4), and concentric aisles (ambulatories) permit devout visitors to circumambulate it.

9–4 interior, dome of the rock

With the large rock at the center of the domed shrine’s concentric circles, the interior bears a strong resemblance to the Church of Santa Costanza, with its central altar.

Israel. Begun 691.

The arches of the inner and outer face of the central arcade are encrusted with golden mosaics, a Byzantine technique adapted for Islamic use to create ornament and inscriptions. The pilgrim must walk around the central space first clockwise and then counterclockwise to read the inscriptions. The carpets and ceilings are modern but probably reflect the original intent.

Credit: © akg-images/Jean-Louis Nou

Inscriptions from the Qur’an are interspersed with passages from other texts, including information about the building itself, to form a frieze around the inner and outer arcades. As pilgrims walk around the central space to read the inscriptions in brilliant gold mosaic on turquoise green ground, the building communicates both as a text and as a dazzling visual display. These inscriptions are especially notable because they are the oldest surviving written verses from the Qur’an and the first use of Qur’anic inscriptions in architecture. Below them, the walls are faced with marble—the veining of which creates abstract symmetrical patterns—and the rotunda is surrounded by columns of gray marble with gilded capitals. Above the calligraphic frieze is another mosaic frieze depicting symmetrical vine scrolls and trees in turquoise, blue, and green embellished with imitation jewels over a gold ground. The mosaics are variously thought to represent the gardens of Paradise and trophies of Muslim victories offered to God. Though the decorative program is extraordinarily rich, the focus of the building is neither art nor architecture but the plain rock it shelters.

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