This semester we studied an array of topics, but one time in history stood out to me more than any other. Initiated in Italy, the prolific time of the Renaissance permeated Europe and the rest of the world. No other topic (that comes to mind) that we studied had such potency and influence—so much so that the names of artists of its time remain household names; Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Da Vinci, Brunelleschi, and etcetera. Not only is the influence of the Renaissance astounding, but also the masterpieces it manufactured. The world famous Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel, The David, The Last Supper, the Vitruvian Man, The School of Athens, and the list continues…
My fascination with the Renaissance is the art. The developments of the Renaissance produced truly arresting images. Methods hatched in this time would offer the gateway for hyperrealism… intense detail to the extent of disbelief. Perhaps one of the best representations of the Renaissance realism is in Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait. The accurate recreations of reality that were so often featured during the Renaissance can be attributed to the emergence of certain techniques. The combination of perspective, proportion, contrast, and color proved to be revolutionary.
One of my favorite Renaissance artists is the lesser-known Caravaggio. His influence can be recognized in the works of greats such as Rembrandt. Possibly setting the standard for remarkable, Caravaggio’s art often featured sharp detail, realistic portrayal, deep contrast, and warm colors. The deep shadows, nighttime setting, and single light source were synonymous with Caravaggio—however, only during his time. Unfortunately, Caravaggio’s influence and style spread without his name attached to it, leading to the death of his fame and the proliferation of works resembling his own.
Providing at least a significant part of the moving force behind the revolution of the Renaissance was Religion. Often artists were commissioned to paint for churches and popes. The Sistine Chapel is a prime example of this. However, religion didn’t encourage art only in the aspect of generating jobs, but also from a theological approach. The great theologians and thinkers of the time offered new ideas, encouraging the following revivals, and no doubt as well as the artists.
I could never hope to produce anything the Renaissance artists created, and I continue to be amazed while browsing the artists and their works via the web. Sadly, western art has taken a turn for the worst it seems, but the art of the Renaissance will always be appreciated, even by the superficial eye.