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Art Through Time: A Global View

Dreams and Visions Compare: How Can Imagined Scenes Speak to Real World Concerns?

Garden of Earthly Delights

Garden of Earthly Delights
Artist / Origin Hieronymus Bosch (Netherlandish, ca. 1450–1516)
Region: Europe
Date: ca. 1500–1505
Period: 1400 CE – 1800 CE
Material: Oil on wood panel
Medium: Painting
Dimensions: (Central Panel) H: 86 5/8 in. (220 cm.), W: 79 ¾ in. (195 cm.); (Side Panels) H: 86 5/8 in. (220 cm.), W: 38 1/8 in. (97 cm.) (each)
Location: Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
Credit: Courtesy of Art Resource, NY/Photo by Erich Lessing

The Jungle

The Jungle
Artist / Origin: Wifredo Lam (Cuban, 1902–1982)
Region: Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Caribbean
Date: 1943
Period: 1900 CE – 2010 CE
Material: Gouache on paper mounted on canvas
Medium: Painting
Dimensions: H: 8 ft. (24 m.), W: 7 ½ ft. (2.3 m.)
Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Credit: © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris/Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by Scala/Art Resource, NY

How can imagined scenes speak to real-world concerns?

When twentieth-century Cuban artist Wifredo Lam lived in Europe, he saw Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights and was said to have been fascinated by it. Struck by the poor treatment of Afro-Cubans in his homeland, Lam painted his monumental work, The Jungle, shortly after he returned to Cuba. A comparison of Garden of Earthly Delights and The Jungle points to the range of meaning that hybrid forms and fantastic landscapes can embody and express.

Questions to Consider

  • How would you describe the mood and tone of Lam’s Jungle and Bosch’s Garden? What kind of message do you think mood helps to convey in these works? Is it the same mood in both? The same message?
  • Both Lam and Bosch created fantasy worlds that are rooted in their impressions of reality. How important do you think it is to understand the social and historical context for each work? Do you think that there is a more universal message communicated through their fantasy element?
  • Both Lam and Bosch employed symbolic elements in their work. What role do you think symbols can play in helping to visualize imaginative worlds?

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Art Through Time: A Global View


Produced by THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG. 2009.
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  • ISBN: 1-57680-888-2