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- Throughout the entire history of art, there have been quite a few movements of artistic style which sought to destroy the boundaries set by society’s standards of what good, acceptable art was at the time. Mannerism is one of these movements, and one that I have personally found to be a rather appalling one at that. The mixture of distorted and elongated figures, shown in complex and impossible poses, distorted perspective and scale, with the addition of bright colours being given to the renaissance art style causes a visual disconnect and discomfort between the art and the viewer. Mannerism was replaced later on in the late sixteenth century with the Baroque art style, and was mostly forgotten as a result, being a relic of a past that we, as a species, had moved on from. It had given us the ability to realize that colours were made to be experimented with, as were the limitations of the human body, and we went on with that information to create even better art as a result. While mannerism as a style that gradually evolved into the baroque style, resulting in it dying away many years ago, there are still a few artists today who seem to use it as a direct influence in their work. One such artist is the author of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hirohiko Araki. The way in which his work on JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure uses bright colours, a distorted perspective and scale, as well as distorted and elongated figures, most of which are shown in complex and near impossible poses is a very clear love letter to mannerism. Not only this, but Araki has the tendency to reference various older pieces of art in his works, lending to the argument in of itself.
- If you were to look up JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, one of the first things that would come up would be references to the absurd poses that the characters are drawn in. The poses shown in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, often referred to as ‘JoJo poses’ by fans, are ones that are famously incredibly difficult for one to recreate on their own. There is a direct comparison to be made here with mannerist work, as mannerism is characterized by having distorted and elongated figures in complex and impossible poses, which the poses in JoJo’s fit perfectly. The character’s legs are much too long, and the way that his body twists is not in the manner that a regular human being would be able to, especially not while holding that pose. The angle is also one that challenges the eye, the perspective being one that’s rather awkward to work with, as it leaves the character shown in the image distorted in its wake. With the group photo, however, there is a more chaotic feeling to it all, one that is also a very good example of the mannerist style being put to the task, with the characters’ proportions being incredibly elongated, a point accented immediately by the character in the dark coat’s arm reaching over and behind the man both to his right and behind him. To make an attempt at this specific character’s pose in real life would not only mean quite possibly dislocating your shoulder, but also having to have an elongated back, twisting it, and breaking your elbow as well. This latter piece is reminiscent of the Allegory of Venus, painted in 1546 by Agnolo Bronzino, which can be found on display at the National Gallery in London. The way in which the figures are posed, with Cupid himself having an arm that, to wrap around Venus properly, would have to suffer the risk of dislocating his shoulder. The chaos of the scene is also very reminiscent of Bronzino’s work, with every character seemingly trying to huddle in as close as they can to ensure that they are also in the picture.
- The colours used in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure are incredibly vivid and full of life, just like the colours that mannerist painters would use while making their paintings. A good example of this in Araki’s work would be the paintings that he had made for the JoJo exhibition: Ripples of Adventure, which was a thirtieth anniversary event that took place in The National Art Center in Tokyo. In it, Araki presented paintings of his various characters from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, all of which sported the bright colours that the series is known for. In the painting, the colours appear to pop out, with the yellow being so striking that one doesn’t even notice the backgrounds various colours at first. The character being depicted in the painting is the first thing that the viewer sees, with his expression almost daring the viewer to continue to look at him, see him in a way that many have and many will. Only after you’re able to break yourself from his gaze are you able to notice the bright red of his hair, and maybe even the tinge of yellow on his lips. The cover art for the video game based off of one of the many parts of the series is drawn by Hirohiko Araki himself, and is another fantastic example of the ridiculously bright colours present in all works of a mannerist nature. The intense, deep red of the background, which is given a stark contrast by the two characters on the boat who are outfitted in blue and purple causes them to pop out against the background. The colours are rich and vibrant, as if they were painted on undiluted, and were a representation of the colour in its original form. While the colours in Madonna of the Long Neck, painted in 1535 by Parmigianino, which can be found in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, aren’t as vibrant as the colours that Araki uses in his artwork, the colours are still rather rich in of themselves. The blue of her drapery stands out among the background, as do the colours of the flesh tones of the people around her, and the baby in her lap. These colours, while not vibrant, possess a quality in their own right with the nature of their being.
- Throughout the course of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hirohiko Araki has taken to referencing various other pieces of art, including having a pose that is incredibly similar to the one that is portrayed in Michelangelo’s sculpture of Pieta, finished in the year 1499, which is currently being kept on display in Saint Peter’s Basilica, in Vatican City. This isn’t the first instance of Araki being clearly inspired by older artworks, but it is one of the few instances where the inspiration for the poses in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure have a direct correlation to a mannerist piece. In Michelangelo's La Pieta, Mary holds the corpse of Jesus Christ in a sorrowful manner, with Christ’s body entirely limp in her arms, laying back with his head and face pointed towards the sky. She looks down at him, and her expression is one of sadness, though she is not crying. In Araki’s depiction, the pose is almost the same, with Giorno Giovanna holding the body of Guido Mista, who lay limp, against his leg and one arm, much akin to how Mary holds Christ with one arm. Mista’s face is facing the sky, and Giorno’s hand is on the back of his head. While the viewer cannot see Giorno’s face, and while his expression is ultimately one of determination, the influence from Michelangelo’s piece is blatantly obvious. Mary cradles the body of her dead son, while Giorno Giovanna holds the body of a man who the audience believes to have died. Later on in the series, Araki recreates La Pieta once more, with a very blatant recreation, complete with his version having a woman who represents Mary that has the veil on, as well as the drapery. Though this is much later on in the series, and this chapter that it was published in being the fifty third of the eighth part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, it still shows that the mannerist influence that Araki had many years before while writing the fifth part still shines through.
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