Discuss how art can be used to reflect, promote, or challenge cultural beliefs.
Art, throughout the times have reflected, promoted and challenged the cultural beliefs of many different societies. To reflect a culture or society the artwork must create or suggest a particular impression of that era. To promote the cultural beliefs of a society the artwork must encourage and support the beliefs. For the artwork to challenge the beliefs it must question tradition. Gislebertus and Michelangelo promote and reflected the society and religion in which they belonged whereas Kruger and Serrano reflected yet challenged their society and religion. .
Gislebertus was a "sculptor of genius" of the Romanesque period. His sculpture of the last Judgement in progress on the West Tympanum of St. Lazare, Autun, France in 1130, reflected and promoted the strong Christian beliefs of this society. This artwork is extremely detailed and reveals many Christian icons and symbols. In the middle of the artwork is Christ, who is the focus of the composition and on either side of him are devils and angles blowing their trumpets. The weighing of souls is depicted throughout the artwork and next to each scale, are angles and devils competing for each soul. Below Christ are the dead rising, one being "plucked" from the earth by giant hands. Here humanity's pitiful weakness in revealed in these terror stricken people as the angles summon them to judgement. The devils have legs which end in sharp claws and lean from hell as they drag souls in and are accompanied by howling and roaring demons. Gislebertus' sculpture was affective in influencing and inspiring the viewers of his artwork as he created a sense of terror and fear by revealing the awful consequences for the damned which encouraged the viewers to follow the Christian and as a result increased the power of the church. Gislebertus was commissioned to depict biblical stories as the majority of the population was illiterate and this was the only way which God's message could be heard.