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The Rebirth of Art: Renaissance and Baroque

Rebirth of Art: Renaissance
The Middle Ages are so called because they fall between twin peaks of artistic glory: The Classical period and the Renaissance. While art hardly died in the Middle Ages, what was reborn in the Renaissance – and extended in the Baroque period – was lifelike art. A shift in interest fro the supernatural to the natural caused this change. The rediscovery of the Greco-Roman tradition helped artists reproduce visual images accurately. Aided by the expansion of scientific knowledge, such as an understanding of anatomy and perspective, painters of the fifteenth through sixteenth centuries went beyond Greece and Rome in technical proficiency.
Rebirth of Art: Baroque
In the Baroque period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reverence for Classicism persisted, but everything revved up into overdrive. Ruled by absolute monarchs, the newly centralized states produced theatrical art and architecture of unprecedented grandeur, designed to overwhelm the senses and emotions.
The Renaissance: The Beginning of Modern Painting
The Renaissance: The Beginning of Modern Painting
In the early 1400s, the world woke up. From its beginnings in Florence, Italy, this renaissance, or rebirth, of culture spread to Rome and Venice, then, in 1500, to the rest of Europe (known as the Northern Renaissance): the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and England.
Common elements were the rediscovery of the art and literature of Greece and Rome, the scientific study of the body and the natural world, and the intent to reproduce the forms of nature realistically.
Aided by new technical knowledge like the study of anatomy, artists achieved new heights in portraiture, landscape, and mythological and religious paintings. As skills increased, the prestige of the artist soared, reaching its peak during the High Renaissance (1500-1520) with megastars like Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
During the Renaissance, such things as the exploration of new continents and scientific research boosted man’s belief in himself, while, at the same time, the Protestant Reformation decreased the sway of the church. As a result, the study of God the Supreme Being was replaced by the study of the human being. From the minutely detailed, realistic portraits of Jan van Eyck, to the emotional intensity of Durer’s woodcuts and engravings, to the contorted bodies and surreal light of El Greco, art was the means to explore all facets of life on earth.
The Top Four Breakthroughs
1. Oil on Stretched Canvas
The Top Four Breakthroughs
1. Oil on Stretched Canvas
Oil on canvas became the medium of choice during the Renaissance. With this method, a mineral like lapis lazuli was ground fine, then mixed with turpentine and oil to be applied as oil paint. A greater range of rich colors with smooth gradations of tone permitted painters to represent textures and simulate three-dimensional forms.
The Top Four Breakthroughs
2. Perspective
The Top Four Breakthroughs
2. Perspective
One of the most significant discoveries in the history of art was the method for creating the illusion of depth on a flat surface called “perspective”, which became a foundation of European painting for the next 500 years. Linear perspective created the optical effect of objects receding in the distance through lines that appear to converge at a single point in the picture known as the vanishing point In Masaccio’s The Tribute Money, lines converge behind the head of christ. Painters also reduced the size of objects and muted colors or blurred detail as objects got farther away.
The Top Four Breakthroughs
3. The Use of Light and Shadow
Chiaroscuro, which means “light/dark” in Italian, referred to the new technique for modeling forms in painting by which lighter parts seemed to emerge from darker areas, producing the illusion of rounded, sculptural relief on a flat surface.
The Top Four Breakthroughs
4. Pyramid Configuration
The Top Four Breakthroughs
4. Pyramid Configuration
Rigid profile portraits and grouping of figures on a horizontal grid in the picture’s foreground gave way to a more three-dimensional “pyramid configuration.” This symmetrical composition builds to a climax at the center, as in Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, where the focal point is the figure’s head.
The Early Renaissance: The First Three Hall of Famers
Masaccio
The Early Renaissance: The First Three Hall of Famers
Masaccio
The Renaissance was born in Florence. The triumvirate of quattrocento (fifteenth century) geniuses who invented this new style included Masaccio and sculptor Donatello, who reintroduced naturalism to art, and the painter Botticelli, whose elegant linear figures reached a height of refinement.
The founder of Early Renaissance painting, which became the cornerstone of European painting for more than six centuries, was Masaccio (1401-1428). Nicknamed “Sloppy Tom” because he neglected his appearance in his pursuit of art, Masaccio was the first since Giotto to paint the human figure not as a linear column in the Gothic style, but as a real human being. As a Renaissance painter, Vasari said, “Masaccio made his figures stand upon their feet.” Other Masaccio innovations were a mastery of perspective and his use of a single, constant source of light casting accurate shadows.
The Early Renaissance: The First Three Hall of Famers
Donatello
The Early Renaissance: The First Three Hall of Famers
Donatello
What Masaccio did for painting, Donatello (1386-1466) did for sculpture. His work recaptured the central discovery of Classical sculpture: contrapposto, or weight concentrated on one leg with the rest of the body relaxed, often turned. Donatello carved figures and draped them realistically with a sense of their underlying skeletal structure.
His “David” was the first life-size, freestanding nude sculpture since the classical period. The brutal naturalism of “Mary Magdalen” was even more probing, harshly accurate, and real” than ancient Roman portraits. He carved the aged Magdalen as a gaunt, shriveled hag, with stringy hair and hollowed eyes. Donatello’s sculpture was so lifelike, the artist was said to have shouted at it, “Speak, speak, or the plague take you!”
The Early Renaissance: The First Three Hall of Famers
Botticelli
The Early Renaissance: The First Three Hall of Famers
Botticelli
While Donatello and Masaccio laid the groundwork for three-dimensional realism, Botticelli (1444-1510) was moving in the opposite direction. His decorative linear style and tiptoeing, golden-haired maidens were more a throwback to Byzantine art. Yet his nudes epitomized the Renaissance. “Birth of Venus” marks the rebirth of Classical mythology.

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The Rebirth of Art: Renaissance and Baroque
Artscolumbia
Artscolumbia
Rebirth of Art: Renaissance
The Middle Ages are so called because they fall between twin peaks of artistic glory: The Classical period and the Renaissance. While art hardly died in the Middle Ages, what was reborn in the Renaissance - and extended in the Baroque period - was lifelike art. A shift in interest fro the supernatural to the nat
2017-09-06 05:35:44
The Rebirth of Art: Renaissance and Baroque
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