Three eras, three views of the world, three pieces of art... all examples used by Kenneth Clark in his great work, Civilization. Each represents a culture's own shortcut to their philosophy, depicted in the way they saw themselves and their gods.
The Apollo of the Belvedere (above and below left) -- in Kenneth Clark's words "a world of light and confidence, in which the gods are like ourselves, only more beautiful, who descend to earth only to teach us reason and the laws of harmony."
An ancient African mask (above right) -- of a similar era as it happens -- representing very starkly "a world of fear and darkness, ready to inflict horrible punishment for the smallest infringement of a taboo."
The bronze doors of a medieval cathedral (above), embodying the world of crosses and graves through which bloodless, leprous foundlings (us) are doomed to wander, cursed by superstitions and transgressions. Dark, dead, dull and lifeless. What a fall from man's exalted view of himself and his existence just a thousand years, a few miles and a Hellenistic world away.
These three pieces represent the light, the darkness, and the ordure of each of these cultures. What d you say would best represent the culture of today?
And what say those of you who maintain that great art like this speaks of nothing?