Thursday, October 2, 2008

Renaissance - still on top...

Madonna with a Flower (Benois Madonna) Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519
begun 1478; Oil on canvas;
19 1/2 x 12 1/2 in (49.5 x 33 cm),
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Powerful factors of the philosophical, political, religious, economical and scientifical changes and innovations created the Renaissance boom in 15th –16th century Europe. Among those factors the alliances of power, money and talent, “civic responsibility and moral duty”, “education and that worked with a great success knowledge”, “the exploration of individual potential and desire to excel” worked really well (Kleiner, Mamya. 453). At that time artists were not just the usual observers but also the real creators of the history.

Indeed, there was a striking difference between the medieval art and the art of Renaissance. Artists responded on the overall social changes by absorbing all that was available at the point in order to achieve perfection and develop a new approach with regard not only for technique but also the meaning for creation. In contrast with Medieval art, Renaissance sculptures and paintings often show slightly idealized but real human being being put in Biblical or Mythological surrounding. Artists however were not in hurry to get rid of medieval traditions and symbols completely, playing a ‘double game’ with general public. High technical skills and the degree of realism made the portraiture and environmental scene paintings very likable by contemporary men or women. And by adding emotions to the faces of portraits or by playing with lights and shadows visual images became completely viable and easy to relate to. Eroticism also plays important role of perception on unconscious level. Depicting naked human forms are not just a great skill to show emotions through the body language but also awake intimate relationship between viewer and artwork. “Although the artistic community and public at large acknowledged technical skills, the conceptualization of the artwork – its theoretical and formal development – was paramount.”( Kleiner, Mamya , 479) Of course viewers cannot avoid general artists desire to please them with all visual tricks: perspective, vibrant colors, idealization and stylization, design, etc.

So roughly here we have the secret to successful artists-viewer relationship. What was admired back then also relevant nowadays. Human values and psychology did not change much. It easy to be seduced by the artwork that talking to you on so many different levels. I personally admire Renaissance artists for their effort for perfection and appreciate all previously mentioned skills and tricks. However I would argue that there is nothing was created since or before that would reach or exceed the outstanding quality of Renaissance art and artists. So, in my opinion, the ongoing or dominant status of Renaissance aesthetics is caused by extreme and constant propaganda. There is also a possibility that hidden jealousy for the Renaissance masters’ prestige status keeps those standards alive.

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