Fine Art Iconography and Form Research Proposal

Pages: 3 (986 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx Other  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

Iconography in Art: The Halo

The halo is a much older religious icon than many people realize, dating back at least as far as the Ancient Egyptians (Lope, 2002). Halos are also readily apparent in many Buddhist and Hindu works of art, and has also been a staple of Christian iconography since the religion itself began (Lope, 2002). This widespread and remarkably disparate yet similar use is strong evidence that the halo -- also known as a nimbus or areole -- is one of the most ancient and universal object of iconography in the world. A halo can be nothing more than a circle around an object or person, often around the head, but the simplicity of the symbol contains its profoundness.

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Halos are typically used as symbols of sanctity, enlightenment, and even divinity (Lope, 2002). The symbol was very likely derived from the Sun -- a glowing circle or disc -- and also symbolized "power, majesty, and prominence," especially in the pre-Christian era (Lope, 2002). The halo is a prominent part of the depiction of several Egyptian gods, and cults that worshipped a similar bull figure to one of the incarnations of the sun god Ra (who wears a halo between his horns) were known to exists as far back as 3000 BCE (Lope, 2002). Romans used halos in their depictions of certain hers and statesmen as a way to glorify them. This practice continued with other important personages until Pope Urban III banned the use of halos in an image of anyone who wasn't beatified; before then, many intellectuals were also depicted with halos, denoting either divine inspiration or the brilliance of their minds -- or both.

In Christian art. Which is how the iconography of the halo is most recognized in the Western world today, the halo has come to symbolize the light of God, and is a definitive association with divinity. This important religious identity has led to some controversial modern uses of the halo.

Research Proposal on Fine Art Iconography and Form Assignment

One such use, not so controversial now but a daring use of the icon in its time, is found in Gauguin's Self-Portrait with Halo. In this post-impressionist oil on wood creation from 1889, many different religious icons collide with a large and somewhat surreal rendering of the artist's own head. It is difficult to discern an overlying theme in the piece. Though there are several phallic representations, and the sexual imagery of the hanging apples -- bringing to mind the Garden of Eden and Original Sin at the hands of Eve -- against the red background definitely add a tone of eroticism to the painting, neither the self-portrait nor the halo seem at all engaged with the other elements. Overall, confusion of both imagery and intent reigns.

Like the other images in the painting, the halo's direct purpose and meaning here is difficult to discern. Given the apparent disinterest in the artist's s representation of himself regarding the temptations of the Garden, the halo… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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