While there has been art depicted throughout Star Wars, one particular group of people stands out. That would be the Mandalorians. In the most recent season of Star Wars Rebels, we see a painting of Ursa Wren, found at the Wren mansion on Krownest, which is evocative of Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (a.k.a. The Lady in Gold or The Woman in Gold) in “Legacy of Mandalore”.
Mandalorian art, especially that of paying homage to art in our world, is not limited to Star Wars Rebels. One of the first pieces of art we notice is a mural found in Pre Vizsla’s meeting room on Concordia in “The Mandalore Plot”, which, as Dave Filoni explained it in a featurette for the episode, is a “Cubist-style painting based on Picasso’s Guernica and it depicts the Mandalorian Wars against the Jedi.” Filoni notes how it is such a special painting, yet there is no particular focus on it for the show: “We have this gorgeous painting that’s been done and you never really get to see it in its entirety. It becomes one of those amazing things in Star Wars that’s just only in the background for, like, 12 frames.”
Filoni also points out in that featurette that “There are other kind of Cubist-style paintings – there’s one of Satine in her throne room.” Indeed, this painting appears in a defaced manner in Maul’s cave on Dathomir in “Visions and Voices” in Star Wars Rebels, making a nice connection between the two series.
Beyond these paintings is an incredible frieze of a war between Mandalorians and Jedi on the wall in front of the palace in “Shades of Reason” and more fully later to be seen in the background of the end of the fight between Maul and Sidious in “The Lawless”, which is reminiscent of Pablo Picasso‘s Massacre in Korea.
Why these works of art are most notable amongst Mandalorians, especially those pieces of art that are homages to pieces of art in our world, it is quite curious as to why the creators of these shows have located a flourishing artistic culture there. While it is unknown to me why either they have a particular amount of artistic culture or why they have become the locus of artistic culture within the Star Wars universe – or, at least, the animated universe – it is clear that it is certainly notable. Filoni did note in that previously-mentioned featurette that “Throughout The Clone Wars are all these little things that we do that give a sense of culture and history; and the styles of the paintings directly reflect the style of the architecture, the style of the clothing.” It is fair to assume that that continues in Star Wars Rebels.
The notability of Mandalorian visual culture becomes quite embodied by the most artistic character of Star Wars Rebels, Sabine Wren, who, from the moment we meet her in the short clips introducing the crew of the Ghost and through the first season, we can tell that not only that she is talented and creative, but it is also somewhat telling that the most artistic character through the first few seasons of Star Wars Rebels is a Mandalorian. Of course, her artistry comes to the attention of Grand Admiral Thrawn in season 3, which highlights her work even more.
I am hoping that, with the coming of season 4 of Star Wars Rebels, we will not only see more artistic culture amongst Mandalorians, but also seek to gain insights. One way I think we may learn more about Mandalorian art and culture in season 4 is not simply being on Mandalore – although we may – but also because we see in the first episode of season 4 (“Heroes of Mandalore, Part 1”, shown at Star Wars Celebration Orlando) that Sabine Wren’s father is an art historian. It is quite amusing from the moment they meet in the aforementioned episode that he chides her on her improvement, but also room for artistic improvement.
We may, through him and, perhaps, speaking with Sabine, why and how artistic culture has flourished on Mandalore, as well as, perhaps, even having been diminished on account of the Mandalorian civil war. While there is lot about which to be excited in season 4 of Star Wars Rebels, especially discovering more about Mandalorians, discovering more about this aspect of material culture and what it can reveal about Mandalorian culture more broadly should be quite interesting.