Benin Art

Part 1

Option A

Look closely at Plates 3.2.17 and 3.2.18, and in no more than 500 words, outline the ways in which Ernst Ludwig Kirchner alters his original model from Benin to make it look more primitive.

When comparing the two images, although Kirchner appears to reproduce a detailed copy

of the Benin plaque, there are   significant differences between the two works that give

each piece a completely different perspective to its audience.

The first obvious difference between the two works is in the intimate details each piece

portrays. The Benin plaque displays great detail in all aspects of the work, from the

clothing of the figures, with detailed and elaborate patterned robing and ornate beaded

embellishments and jewellery to the background of the composition, which has been

painstakingly decorated with patterned reliefs that suggest expert craftsmanship and a

remarkable attention to detail.

In contrast, Kirchnner's approach is much less precise. Although he has reproduced most

of the obvious representations found in the Benin plaque, it is   much less defined and in

parts, ignores the intricate, close up details of its model, merely sketching roughly the

clothing and jewellery of the figures, ignoring the complex patterns so vividly displayed in

the Benin plaque. The background too is much less ornate with only the large flower like

decorations being represented, ommiting the intricate patterns that are so prevalent in the

original, giving Kirchner's work a much more basic feel than that of its   complex and

carefully crafted model.

The figures in the   Benin work are highly detailed, several displaying clearly the

scarification marks associated with their culture. Such marks are vaguely represented

only on the main figure in Kirchner's sketch which also has been altered to show the

upper torso of the figure naked, without the intricate belt like garment worn by this