Classic English Literature

Art Analysis: Understanding the Relationship Between Painting and Poem

What the eyes can see, the mouth can interpret; the marriage between visual and verbal art is specifically getting a connective attention on how artists relate and interpret the history of the society that they are living in. Visual art and verbal art are considered to be among the strongest forms of art that makes a great impact on the shaping of the human history. Through the years, the recognition of this fact has created a strong indication on how the modern society tries to appreciate the bearing of the past and the works of those who have realized art through time. In this particular discussion, the works of Thomas Cole {painting] and Samuel Taylor Coleridge [poem: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner] shall be given particular attention to. Through the value of semiotics and how its principles apply to the process of analyzing the meanings and the values of the elements the artists use in each piece to send their message to the audiences, a distinction on how these works define both the time and culture where the artsists came from shall be given particular focus.

The five series of paintings by Thomas Cole, Course of Empire, is a symbolic warning account of the growth of human civilization. It is more than just the personal philosophy of Cole concerning the spiritual eminence of nature and its power over civilization and man. It also reveals political, artistic and religious activities within the culture of America in the 18th century. This series of paintings reveals ideas found in uniformitarianism, associationism, transformation and transcendentalism shared by the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge’s poem also shares the same characteristics and themes as the series of paintings because his poem has a number of hallmarks that may associate with Romanticism. His poem includes elements of dramatic natural images, supernatural and an interest in the language of conversation. In nutshell, Cole’s series of paintings seem to reflect the themes evident in Coleridge’s poem.

In a relative view, the theme of transformation is common among the two art forms. The poem” The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” contains several instances of critical points of transformation. It is visible especially when the Mariner spurts the albatross. The poetic representation in the art form is symbolic of the feeling that the author tries to express. In this case, the most significant transformation is that of the conversation between the Mariner and the prideful yank who dislikes large birds. The albatross that is on his neck resembles the lumber of his sins. It falls the moment he atones and blesses the snakes at the sea. The transformations are symbolic of the transition from the one state of civilization to another state of civilization which is further suggested nehind the symbolical bearing of Thomas Cole’s series of paintings.

The use of short sentences and simple rhyme in the writing provides an overview of what is depicted in the poem. This is similar to the expression used paintings that are symbolic of different eras of civilization. The audience is encouraged to analyze the atmosphere created in the poem. The author of the poem employed the use of punctuation to ensure that there is an emphasis in his message. The encounter of the wedding guest with the mariner is an influencing point of the poem. The author also used impersonal phrases to describe the existence of an object that appears to be abstract in nature. There is a close correlation of the analysis of the poem and the paintings of Cole. In the paintings of Cole, there is a transformation from calmness that is evident in “the Consummation of Empire” to “Destruction”.

In the consummation of Empire, there is calmness and this painting resemble the utmost accomplishment of the empire. In this painting, man has managed to harness nature for his own gain and his fellow citizens. In the destruction, there is a transformation from calmness to ruins. In this painting, man has been extinguished. The ruins of the civilization of man have been absorbed into nature. Man has died, but the nature has managed to survive. In this case, it is as if Cole suggests that the emergence of human realization on how he is to be able to get the best out of nature would turn back around him with a great revenge from nature itself. Cole had painted his works from 1833 to 1836. This can be interpreted as deterrent story about the growth of civilization and supremacy of nature to survive man’s destructive traits. Cole borrowed some lines from Coleridge as the motto of the series. His paintings start with freedom, and glory, when freedom and glory fail, corruption, vice and wealth consume the nation. The theme of the paintings integrates the pressure between power of man and the power of land. This reflects an account of myth of the land, which has been represented in the writings of Coleridge.

The relation of man to land has been a dominant image in the American mind. Cole sees the altering relation of man to nature while he grows through time and different civilization stages. Coleridge’s view of land myth concentrates on land cultivation and western movement for agrarian purposes. The paintings of Cole concentrate on the traits of the inhabitants as civilization while Coleridge focuses on the individual farmer. In Cole’s myth of landscapes, man is in unity with God through nature. Although likely impossible to happen in relation to the course of living that humans intended to embrace, this picture is rather symbolical in presenting how Cole hopes it to be instead of what the actual situations suggest in relation to how human morality over nature and its values has changed through the years.

An initial sketch indicated the arrangement of the idea behind the creation of the design. It also illustrates the anticipated arrangement that the painting would be subjected to in the gallery. The painting depicts the evolution of an empire from birth to its mature state in an interesting manner. These histories were depicted in interesting ways that leave the audience with a curious thought. There is a distinct comparison of the biological nature of the development of the paintings. A single scene is depicted in as the effect of time in the three paintings. This is interpreted by the interaction of man and his natural surroundings. The unique pointed rock on the bay also gives a better representation of the paintings representation. The lighting is presented in a progression that moves in a series from right to the left of the painting. The arrangement of the paintings is symbolic. The first painting displays the beginning of the day while the last painting denotes sunset.

The painting in the middle of the two paintings denotes the warmth portrayed by the serenity of the day. The consummation of Empire depicts the clear light displayed after noon symbolic of the turning point of the high point of civilization. This evolution is similar to the progression of seasons seen from spring to the end of autumn. Cole uses symbolism in most of his work to express himself. He also uses fire and smoke to represent man’s effort in harnessing the fire. This shows the progress man has made in conceptualizing innovations and controlling his innovativeness. It is a representation of the future expectation as man is bound to create other innovations for the benefit of the human race.

The savage state portrays the world in the vision that it is at the dawn of civilization. It is easy for one to see the powerful forces of nature as illustrated in the painting. It is interesting how the painter depicts the swirling cloud pushed by the wind and the rising mist visible in the landscape of the painting. There is an image of a hunter in pursuit of an animal. This is symbolic of mans effort to pursue the earth and its inhabitants for his survival in the foreground. There is a plateau on the shores of the bay. The start of civilization in the society is displayed in the community of Teepee. There is rising indicators of smoke that indicates the harnessed fire. The relationship between man and nature shows the effort that man has initiated in surviving. It appears that nature is the most powerful force. The pastoral or Arcadian gives a different symbolization of the nature of the presentation of the paintings.

The scene portrayed in the painting indicates late morning, which is under the calm sky with a pleasant atmosphere. The figures that are present in the foreground are a presentation of development and other physical activities. The figures are representative of mathematics, drawing and other forms of arts. The middle ground indicates agricultural activities, way of life of the communities and architecture. There is a reference to religious activity, which involves worship within the surrounding as indicated by a temple in the vicinity. The temple is seen to have been built following a design of a Stonehenge that is in a rectangular form. A sacrificial smoke that is seen rising in the air is a symbol of harmony between nature and civilization.

In the desolation, there is quietness as depicted by the autumnal evening and the empire in ruins. The painting is symbolic of the triumph of nature over the activities of man. There is an indication that man is extinct after the destruction of the empire. Nature is supreme and above everything else. This is symbolized by the absorption of man’s civilization into the nature. The calmness and peacefulness of the scene is indicated clearly by the objects in the paintings. There is a prediction that man will eventually disappear while nature would remain. The appearance of the lighted torch in an upside down posture shows the transition from one civilization to the next. A single scene has been depicted by several elements that symbolize several messages as portrayed by the paintings. There is uncontrollable strength in the Savage state as portrayed by images depicted by the swirling clouds. This is supported by the dramatic nature and variation the artistic environments.

Relating the two works together, it could be analyzed that both art pieces intend to manifest a distinction on how the artists understand human morality and how it progresses through time. Notably, Cole tried to depict the said matter through chronologicall painting the history between the relationship of man and nature as he interprets it. On the other end, Colleridge tries to depict the matter through pointing out how human reacts through the different situations that he faces every day. Relatively, this case insists on the possibilities of defining development under the course of defining the changes and transformations that humans undergo through time. Learning from the past and pushing forward ought to have taught humans about the results of their acts and desires. However, in both works, such learning has been depicted as useless and unappreciated by the humans who were supposed to embrace each value of historical teaching which then sadly results to self destruction, a matter that is obviously evident in the human society at present.