Style and Signature in Religious Paintings

Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red observes the relationship between the East and the West and notably, the effects of Western influences on art. Returning to Istanbul after 12 years, Black notices the many things that have changed since his departure, recognizing they originate from the growing influence of Western civilization on the East. One of the central themes of the novel revolves around the clash between Eastern and Western methods of painting, which merely express different ways of seeing the world. Islamic painters attempted to depict the world from Allah’s point of view, whereas the Europeans from a human perspective. I really enjoyed looking at the different eastern book covers in class on Monday and seeing which ones seemed to accurately represent what art should epitomize in eastern countries: no discernible faces and no sense of hierarchy. The various narrators often bring up the idea of “signature” and “style” – in the East, all painters were to imitate the work of their older masters, there was no room for personal/identifiable style or technique. However, in the west, painters ubiquitously would take credit for their work by signing their art pieces or making them recognizable with a personal style. Being a westerner, I never really gave much thought to the idea of showing belonging with a signature on religious artwork. I don’t believe this is as controversial nowadays; however, it makes me wonder if any art work that has a religious purpose should be taken credit for, as opposed to merely dedicated to the Divine. I believe that in the end, the debate between East and West regarding art is somewhat futile and only reflects different ideas of devotion to religion, which the East and West may simply not share.

One Reply to “Style and Signature in Religious Paintings”

  1. I also really enjoyed looking at the contrast between Eastern and Western art. It is easy to understand why an image indicating some sort of hierarchy would be threatening in Eastern cultures, and this concept reminded me of the Golden Calf. Yet it is also to see that limiting arts to only the imitation of old master stagnates creativity, which is why I feel like both sides have merit in this time period.

Leave a Reply