Some art forms combine a visual element with performance (e.g., cinematography) or artwork with the written word (e.g., comics). From prehistoric cave paintings to modern day films, art serves as a vessel for storytelling and conveying humankind's relationship with the environment.
Las Meninas (Spanish for The Maids of Honour) is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The work's complex and enigmatic composition raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures depicted. Because of these complexities, Las Meninas has been one of the most widely analysed works in Western painting. Las Meninas shows a large room in the Madrid palace of King Philip IV of Spain, and presents several figures, most identifiable from the Spanish court, captured, according to some commentators, in a particular moment as if in a snapshot. Some figures look out of the canvas towards the viewer, while others interact among themselves. The young Infanta Margarita is surrounded by her entourage of maids of honour, chaperone, bodyguard, and two dwarfs. Las Meninas has long been recognised as one of the most important paintings in Western art history. The Baroque painter Luca Giordano said that it represents the "theology of painting", while in the 19th century Sir Thomas Lawrence called the work "the philosophy of art".
Paul Kane was an Irish-Canadian painter, famous for his paintings of First Nations peoples in the Canadian West and other Native Americans in the Oregon Country. Largely self-educated, Kane grew up in Toronto (then known as York) and trained himself by copying European masters on a study trip through Europe. He undertook two voyages through the wild Canadian northwest in 1845 and from 1846 to 1848. The first trip took him from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie and back. Having secured the support of the Hudson's Bay Company, he set out on a second, much longer voyage from Toronto across the Rocky Mountains to Fort Vancouver and Fort Victoria in the Oregon Country and back again. On both trips Kane sketched and painted Native Americans and documented their life. Upon his return to Toronto, he produced from these sketches more than one hundred oil paintings. Kane's work, particularly his field sketches, are still a valuable resource for ethnologists. The oil paintings he did in his studio are considered a part of the Canadian heritage, although he often embellished these considerably, departing from the accuracy of his field sketches in favour of more dramatic scenes.
In my view, the composer, just as the poet, the sculptor or the painter, is in duty bound to serve Man, the people. He must beautify human life and defend it. He must be a citizen first and foremost, so that his art might consciously extol human life and lead man to a radiant future. Such is the immutable code of art as I see it.