Identity is a central concern of contemporary life. Identity plays a large part in societies and individuals lives; however it has not just become a central concern. For the last couple of hundred years identity has been a central concern. This central concern of identity is and has been portrayed, explored and discussed through art. In contemporary art there are multiple different art techniques, styles, codes, conventions and forms of art which explore and express identity. In the classical era of art the privilege of having a self-portrait created by an artist and displaying it in your house defined the identity of those people.
In the last 100 years identity has been explored, portrayed and expressed in art through the use of different techniques, styles and forms of art. Different techniques such as rendering, shading, colour usage, and the softness or hardness of the lines are some of the ways in which artist are expressing and exploring the idea of identity. There are multiple different styles being used to express, portray and explore identity, some of these are abstract, cubism, expressionism, impressionism, realism, surrealism ect.
These styles allow artist to create new and more in depth and meaningful artworks that can have a deeper, complex and relevant message behind the artwork. Modern artist also use different or mixed forms of art, for example sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawings, paintings, charcoal ect. The artist Kathe Kollwitz is a German artist (1867-1945). She created artworks that depicted the effects of war and the society’s identity throughout the war. This identity was of famine and starvation, one of fear and confusion and one of death and depression. Throughout the harsh period of the war she created sketches on paper using charcoal.
The use of the expressionism in her artwork depicted her society’s identity and issue that was brought from the war and it effects. She focused on the identities that had changed due to the wars, either from directly being involved or form indirectly being involved, for example the identity change from one losing their loved one due to the harshness and effects of the world wars, or having no family or job that would be able to provide for you or your child so you have been forced to take up a life of begging on the streets for food in attempt to not to die of starvation.
Kollwitz's art resounds with compassion as she makes appeals on behalf of the working poor, the suffering and the sick. Although Kathe Kollwitz’s work is mainly portraying the identity changes and effects of both World War 1 and World War 2 she also took a liking in depicting with in her artworks the role and identity of women in a family. She mostly used the same materials of charcoal on paper when she created this work, but also used different media to create some of her artworks.
When working on expressing and exploring women, their identities and their roles in society Kollwitz was able to express the changes to a women’s identity if she had a family to look after, and to high light the importance of the women’s identity when it came to interacting with their child. She also focused on women who were barely able to care for or nourish their children. This was able to depict the difficulties with handle children and the identities that un-worthy parents had.
In the era that Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Richard Franklin was painting, the artwork being produced were more classical art. Any other types of artist that produced different artworks like cubist artworks or expressionist artworks were frowned upon. The classical artworks that they created were based on the identity of the figure in their artwork. Most of the artworks created by the classic artist were created on demand from the wealthy, high up in society citizens that could afford the artworks of themselves. The portraits were used to express and define the figures identity with in society.
The portraits would be shown off at the buyers large villas and the artworks would be only there to define and express to others that the house owner or his family members and figure in the painting were of an upper class back ground and that their identity in society was quite high up the social ladder. The artworks were informing of the status and identity of the figure in order to depict to others their wealth and that they were from the upper class and their identity mattered in their society. They would also create sculpture and paint paintings that were asked of them by the upper class citizens in the society of that era.
The artistic style used was classical. It was seen as great work to be able to create something so realistic and to create realistic things that would be part of the identity of the figure and of the society when the renaissance period was over and other styles and forms of art were more accepted in society. Identity is not just a central concern of contemporary life; it was also a central concern of the older life style from decades ago. The idea and concept of identity has been carried through society and has been explored, discussed and expressed through the use of art.