What is Art?

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I have discovered that our perception of beauty is affected by cultural standards, media, history and the culture in which we live. Observe the painting below of a sixteenth century Italian woman (Quentin Massys, An Old Woman (The Ugly Duchess), (c. 1513), oil on oak panel).
Think about your understanding and appreciation of beauty in the natural world, in Western culture and in other cultures both past and present. In your essay, be sure to address the following items:

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  1. Describe your feelings when you first viewed Massys’ An Old Woman and elaborate on any possible changes in perception that you may have experienced as you continued your visual study of the painting.
  2. How might the power of this “ugly” imagery provoke deeper contemplation?
  3. Do you feel that beauty is an unchanging concept, or does the idea of beauty change for different people living in different times and places?

Essay Guidelines: 12 point font, 2-3 full pages of text, one inch margins, double spaced, Times New Roman font, Standard English, complete sentences, and paragraph form. Well-organized essays with clear introductions, supporting paragraphs, and conclusions will earn higher scores. Please write in your own words and if you decide to include any quotes or cite any ideas not your own, you must cite those sources with an in-text citation and a works cited page. Use MLA or Chicago style citations. Use at least one or two acceptable sources for your paper.


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