Wealth and Power
Throughout history, and the world, art and architecture has supported power, wealth, and the ambitions of kings, emperors, popes, and presidents. Skillful rulers have sought to promote their prowess, valor, and competence by using art and architecture to show the world his or her abundant skills in leading.
Sumptuous palaces, large imposing statues, and finely crafted luxury items, not only reveal the wealth of a ruler, but may also evoke the memory of successful leaders of the past in order to reinforce power to the present day.Even today leaders use the power of art through monuments, architecture, billboards, television, money, and the Internet. Power through art can be used for personal gain, or for various social and ethical issues.
The constant barrage of images of a leader to the furthest reaches of a country, and the world, serves to reinforce a ubiquitous presence, or instill fear, whether he or she is a strong statesperson, tyrant, or despot. However, this idea of power can be displayed in many forms, and not solely seen as the power of a leader. Power can be described in the context of man vs. nature, man vs. man, and man vs. society. In whichever context power is used, conflict, struggle, and opposition may ensue.
Rationale for Teaching
Power as an enduring idea for teaching and learning allows multiple disciplines to engage in study by examining the art of rulers, society, and nature. Art and architecture have been used over the last three millennia as a way for leaders to show their power and wealth. Ancient Assyrians and Persian kings emphasized their superiority over their people with decorative art and architecture; Egyptian Pharaohs claimed to be gods and embodied this concept through monolithic feats by building pyramids; bronze heads of rulers were sent to the far reaches of the Benin people in order to reinforce authority. Person vs. person power struggles throughout history have caused communities to falter or divide. The overwhelming power of Mother Nature has destroyed some of man’s greatest accomplishments. Studying power through the artworks of ancient people and contemporary artists invites the learner into realms of politics, economy, ethics, social studies, clothing and costume, textiles, and psychology. These images of the past still permeate the modern perception of leadership through power and wealth.
- Power for self advancement
- Using power and wealth for social or ethical issues
- Using power in different forms: man vs. nature, man vs. man, man vs. society
- How have leaders promoted self-advancements, their own ambitions or sought divine approval through art?
- How has a society or person used power to influence, persuade, or communicate an idea to the general public?
- How does the struggle for power differ when it takes the form of man vs. nature as opposed to man vs. man?