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The Farnese Atlas Analysis

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Atlas by Vik Muniz is a colossal photographic portrait made from trash. Using garbage scavenged from Gramacho, one of the largest landfills in America, Muniz models trash into images of classical portraits with his own twist. “...I’m trying to step away from the realm of fine arts, I think it’s a very exclusive, very restrictive place to be... What I want to be able to do is to change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day”, Muniz stated in film Wasteland. The film Wasteland, directed by Lucy Walker, tracks the development of Muniz’ series of monumental photographic portraits made from trash. The Farnese Atlas is a 2nd-century Roman marble replica of a Hellenistic sculpture of Atlas, a Titan sentenced by Zeus to hold up his burden for eternity, kneeling with the celestial spheres of the sky weighing down heavily on his shoulders. The Farnese Atlas is an enormous sculpture standing at seven feet tall and is currently located at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, in Italy. Although their actual form and matter are different, both the Atlas and The Farnese Atlas are similar in the way that both paintings portray a male character with a serious or stern expression, carrying a large spherical burden or load on their shoulders. Also, both pieces seem to be copies of other pieces made before their own time. Vik Muniz’s Atlas is his own interpretation of The Farnese Atlas, and The Farnese Atlas is an interpretation or copy of a Greek
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