Writing Assignment 1

Wonder Woman #52 (cover art by John Byrne)

How has the artist John Byrne been inspired by Baroque Art? Which artist’s  (region, dates and medium) influence can be seen in this Wonder Woman #52 cover?  In a short essay of 2-3 paragraphs describe the iconography, context, and composition of this piece. Connect it to an artist from the Baroque period. Use your notes on vocabulary from the chapter study guide to help answer the questions.

(Answers to this essay question will be posted as part of this blog once they have been reviewed by Ms. Polo, and the students have received feed back on their writing.)


Best Compiled Answers:

“Many parallels may be drawn between Baroque Art and John Byrne’s work Wonder Woman #52. The color scheme of the comic book cover may be new; but the composition, the gestures, and the effects can be compared to the work of Baroque painters. Popular compositions, characteristics, and themes from this stylistic period are the key to understanding artistic interconnectivity.”
-Lena (with corrections from Ms. Polo)

“Baroque art is flamboyant, energetic and dramatic. These three adjectives may also be used to describe John Byrne’s portrayal of Wonder Woman for the cover of DC Comics. In particular, Byrne seems to have been inspired by an early female artist of the Baroque period named Artemisia Gentileschi. A resident of Florence, Artemisia was famous for her feminist iconography, depicting women dominating men. In her well-known painting of the Jewish heroine Judith beheading the Assyrian general Holofernes, Artemisia shows a woman superior in strength and wits defeating a leader of men. Likewise, Byrne’s Wonder Woman is shown as a brave, invincible female capable of conquering even the mightiest of monsters.”

“The Wonder Woman cover can also be compared to Caravaggio’s “Judith Beheading Holofernes”. Both the cover and painting have dramatic impact and the expressions on Judith’s face and Wonder Woman’s face both show repulsion. “
-Elisa (with a few corrections from Ms. Polo)

“John Byrne may have also been influenced by Bernini’s David. Sculpted in 1623 from marble, David is a prime example of Baroque realism. The context of Wonder Woman #52 is similar to that of David: a fit, very strong youth combats an enemy. In David, the enemy is left unseen. Wonder Woman sits on top of her enemy, who is very much a part of the picture. Both figures share a similar physique: strong muscular arms fighting, straining to defeat an adversary. A look of purpose is clearly visible on each. In both works extreme emotion on set faces with muscles straining animate the picture plane in Byrne’s work, and the stone in Bernini’s work.
Another connection to Baroque art can be made to the work of Jusepe de Ribera. In his Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew (oil on canvas, 1634), Ribera uses an X composition and tenebrism. The same composition is used in Wonder Woman #52. This comes from having arms to the bottom left, and to the top right that frame the painting. The eye of the viewer is drawn to the action in the center. St. Bartholomew’s face is illuminated, while the executioner’s is half cast in shadow. The giant’s face is cast half in shadow and half in bright light, while Wonder Woman’s face is fully illuminated by a bright light. Her face has the same sharp nose and open mouth of St. Bartholomew. In Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew, the villain is on top in both composition and in meaning: the hero will be defeated. In Wonder Woman #52, our heroine sits atop the giant, so that in both composition and in meaning: wonder woman will win!”
-Lena (with corrections from Ms. Polo)


Leave a Reply