REFLECTION 3: The Raft of Medusa

14 Jun

The Raft of the Medusa was painted by Théodore Géricault between 1818 and 1819 with oil on canvas. It stands at 16′ x 23′ and can be seen at the Louvre. This was one of the first romantic paintings that I’ve been able to view and understand. Let me clarify. Growing up in Midwest America, learning about the arts (of any kind) has never been part of my education. Yes, I had to fulfill an art requirement for my high school; it was under-water basket weaving and the final was identifying round reed and square reed. The arts take a back seat to almost every other aspect of American culture. As evidence, Kansas governor Sam Brownback recently eliminated ALL arts funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. He defended his actions as “a cost-saving move that allows the state to focus on ‘core’ functions, such as education, social services and public safety.” Even the arts friendly Democratic Party has cut the National Endowment for the Arts by 13%. While these are just a few examples, let me quote Andrea Stone of the USA Today, “The philosophical divide between those who see the arts as frivolous and those who see its value is as old as the nation.” During a time of economic recession something that could be unnecessary is easily eliminated. Because of this, I arrived in Paris shamefully uneducated about any kind of art. It wasn’t until the ULIP class that I learned the difference between neo-classic and romantic artists, maybe. Lucy’s long explanation of The Raft of the Medusa was eye opening. Neo-classic and romantic art isn’t the forerunner of the camera. Its interpretation can act as a political critique. The Raft of the Medusa is a political attack that criticizes classism and shows the results: cannibalism, murder, violence, and death. In addition, hearing how Gericault studied dead bodies and interviewed survivors increased my respect for this painting. It was in this moment at the Louvre that I became aware of my ignorance for art and became determined to change it.



2 Responses to “REFLECTION 3: The Raft of Medusa”

  1. Lucy June 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    An interesting piece Ashley. The Raft of the Medusa fits more into the Romantic movement than the Neo-classic movement in terms of style and subject, but everything else you say about it is accurate, it’s just the label that’s out of synch 😉 And I tend to think it’s a lot more important to grasp ideas than memorize labels…

    • author June 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      Wow, I’m embarrassing. I think I’ve got it fixed though. 🙂

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