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Word Count: 579
Existentialism and Art With the philosophy of Existentialism mankind defines itself through the act of living A man or a woman exists and then spends a lifetime changing his or her essence Essence is basically what we make of ourselves Without life there can be no meaning the search for meaning in existentialism is the search for self In other words we define ourselves by living any choices we have must be authentic then With existentialism there is no divine being no higher power to which we answer and who creates guidelines of good and bad There is only Ethos defined as the way things should be Some things are irrational or absurd without explanation The existentialist view is somewhat bleak as man creates his own path without guidance and with all the responsibility of his actions on his own shoulders The arts of the post World War II era reflects this stance seeming to be absurd in itself creating an air of isolation at times at other times the mood of the works are not defined or have no specific goal Focusing in on the visual arts of this questioning time standards are thrown out of the proverbial window The theme of isolation remains consistent throughout many works New York artist Edward Hopper presented a scheme of meaningless relationships and quiet desperation in regards to urban America he exacts this feeling in his 1942 painting Nighthawks where a sallow light is cast from an all-night diner onto an empty street in a big city while four individuals sit in the seeming silence of the sterile surroundings A later artist Alberto Giacometti used a clay medium cast in bronze to conjure eerie spindly silhouettes of five figures on one plane who seem to have no direction no interaction no life in his acclaimed City Square The sculpture represents the existentialist view as each of the burnt-looking characters look as though they are
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