Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Philosophy, Life, Existentialism, Art, Humans, World, Existence, Concept

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/29

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Philosophical Existentialism

Existentialism is a philosophy that stresses the concept of freedom, solitude, and choice. It considers the fact that human beings exist in an irrational world, and they, therefore, have to make rational decisions so as to define them and give life a meaning. Existentialism argues that there is no primary purpose for the existence of humans and that there is no logical explanation for this effect. Therefore, humans only need to embrace their existence to help them define their lives and counter the emptiness in life. This philosophy believes that humans are free beings and must, therefore, be responsible for their existence. It further notes that humans need to exercise their fundamental freedom and choice as a way of rising above the absurd humanitarian conditions (Mastin).
Existentialism has evolved to the level where it is used to refer to the people who do not belong to any school of thought. Such people distance themselves from systems and beliefs as they consider them superficial and distant from the reality of life. The existentialists believed that the existence takes precedence over consciousness; this was their definition of reality. It implies that man is nothing, and the decisions and action he makes will be used to define him. The existentialists believe that rationality was a means for humans to counter their fear of existence and it only hindered them from finding the real meaning of freedom. They argue that humans choose their preferred ways without being influenced by anything and, therefore, everyone defines morality and truth by their standards (Mastin).
The concept of existentialism dates back to earlier than the 17th century as witnessed in religious writings. The Christian writings by St. Augustine suggest that life is meaningless, measurable and tedious without God. Christians believed that God made man to peacefully co-exist with other people and their main purpose in life was to serve him. People, therefore, need to put complete faith in God to help them conquer the emptiness of life and find their true purpose in life, just like the knight of faith. However, Christians tend to critique this idea of existentialism. They say that it overlooks the grace and dignity of humans that is derived from the image of God. They also say that the concept is baseless as it cannot explain the basis of the moral dimension of humans (Mastin).
Different artists have created works that border on the existentialism philosophy. They base their arts on their personal feelings and experiences in the real life. Some of these works directly show the solitude in existence of humans and their struggle in trying to find their purpose in life. One of the artists whose existential artwork has gained popularity is Alberto Giacometti. One of Giacometti’s works, Head of a Man, indicates the level at which he was anguished with life and any other thing related to it. When you look at this image, you will first see the expression of an artist who is tormented with life and is taking out his frustration on paper. However when you look at the image more keenly you will identify the spiritual connection the image has with the world. This work was inspired by a film he watched that made him realize the difference between a film reality and a world reality.
(Fig 1Giacometti’s Head of a Man/Digo) Source:http://www.spaightwoodgalleries.com/Pages/Giacometti2.html
The image tries to express the existential concept of how human beings try to understand what is happening to them or around their world by looking at the world through the eyes of a newborn baby. Instead of seeing a person, the child sees blurs that move around. When he looked for the first time, everything was different, and they had a new experience. The eyes of the newborn looked at the world with total innocence and confusion rather than with knowledge as compared to the adults. That explained the hazy look of the man’s drawing to symbolize confusion that engulfs a person the first time he interacts with a given situation (Adams).
Another artwork of Giacometti built around the existential philosophy is the sculpture of a man that was pointing the infinitive space around him. This piece of art depicted an artist who was struggling to define himself through the creations he made. Giacometti kept building sculptures and then destroyed them as they did not clearly illustrate what he was looking into in the space around him (Foddering).
(Fig 2 Giacometti, Man Pointing)
Source: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/giacometti-man-pointing-n05939
Giacometti was frustrated not at the sculptures he had created but at the space left around the sculpture. It was an indication of a person who was trying so hard to find his purpose in the universe but failed many times. It is referred to as an existential struggle with the world. The final sculpture pointed into the infinite space to indicate a lack of knowledge for the future. Its surface bore a lot of scratches indicating the emotions that are associated with existential struggles (Foddering).
Jackson Pollock was an American painter who did abstract paints as he explored the reality in shapes and colors. He then extended this concept to the actual painting, and it came to be known as action or performance art. (Adams). This style of art considered the canvas as an arena and not as a space as he would place it on the floor and walk over it as he painted different objects and esthetics.
(Fig 3Jackson Pollock in studio)
Source: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/feb/26/jackson-pollock-evelyn-toynton-review
Pollock would concentrate greatly on his painting and selectively fill empty squares on his canvas to symbolize the freedom of choice in the existential philosophy. It was a perfect representation of the visual story of the impulses and the decisions mad made in his life unconsciously. Pollock’s painting is a true depiction of the world as it is as he chose the material to work with. He depicts the sense of emptiness and nothingness by randomly walking around the canvas and painting random objects and shapes with no actual goal (Adams).

Works Cited

Adams, Clare. "Existentialism as Precursory to Performance or Action-based Art." Existentialism as Precursory to Performance or Action-based Art. 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
Foddering, Robert. "Art and Existentialism." 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
Mastin, Luke. "Existentialism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy." Existentialism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy. 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2015. 

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