Free «The Spread of the Renaissance» Essay

The Spread of the Renaissance

The period of Renaissance was a unique age marked by liberalism in art and new vision of the world. The artists depicted human beauty and physical strength. During this period, historical painter might like to think that he represented the supreme achievement of the age, but something still remained to spring up in the shadow of his vast canvases. The movement developed its precise, unhistorical portrayal of particular fact, and enriched it with the distress and resignation of the poor. Such painters as Donatello, Michelangelo, Albrecht Durer depicted physical beauty of the man as the main ideology of this historical period,

The Italian Renaissance gained a start in the North to the degree that planimetric and stereometric forms were valued for themselves and thus had meaning as self-sufficient entities. However, this occurred only conditionally. There is more of it in painting than in architecture. In general, we can say that while German classic architecture was not behind the times, it would look different if it had possessed a Durer. However, it was not accidental that such a man was lacking: In the northern Renaissance, architecture could not play the leading role it did in Italy.

Trade and commerce were the main channels of information diffusion and proliferation of cultural and philosophical ideas. European countries borrowed ideas from the Italy and implemented them in their own cultural environment. In Italy the most severe form is at the same time the most vital. As for architecture, the regularity of the ground plan finds its natural concomitant in the regularity of the sequence of forms. Symmetry is prized as the natural basis for all invention of form; and, going beyond this symmetry, a feeling for regularity in the diversified individual proportions and formal motifs of an organism has been developed, guaranteeing the greatest formal unity. The same holds true for painting. Italy has produced an abundance of paintings designed from a purely tectonic viewpoint, with emphasis on the central axis and symmetrical treatment of the two sides. The Germans are barely able to accept this principle even in tranquil groups of figures and still less in lively historical scenes. Raphael, however, could unhesitatingly make use of the pattern in both his "School of Athens" and the highly dramatic "Expulsion of Heliodorus." These works are of course large murals; but the same principle was also readily applied to the smallest paintings. Such obedience to rule does not have the unnatural quality it does in Germany. In atectonic compositions, however, other principles of harmony are in force, resulting in a picture equally rule-bound, although in a different way. Indeed, even the individual body and individual head as formal entities are also subject to theprinciples of rule and order. The structure of the human body has some inherent kinship with architecture, and this architectonic quality can be intensified by emphasizing the body's geometric system; but the Renaissance was particularly concerned with showing that the totality of the different forms composing the body also is subject to certain laws.

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The Renaissance cab be described a “bridge” between classical and modern art as it borrowed ideas from the past but transformed them into new forms of artistic representation and ideology. The Renaissance artists strove to capture the light and atmosphere, and with it the authentic experience. The engineer's plain, blunt constructions began to be transformed by the architect. The preliminary results of this development are before us today: buildings and groups of buildings with an easy fluency of plan and transparent walls, uniting function and form in a higher architectural unity and restoring to painting and sculpture their old place in the building itself and its extension in garden or square. The Renaissance philosophers supposed that virtue is the main principle of happiness and good life. The proper behavior and activity is rational because it leads a man to good life. When the aging Bernini traveled to Paris to build a palace for the King of France in the true--i.e., Italian--style, he began the conversation with an explanation of the fundamental importance of proportion. We may assume that he had previously reflected on the topic. With that explanation, Bernini hit upon the decisive point of contrast between Italian and northern architecture. That he represented the style we call Baroque is irrelevant: all preceding Italian concepts, in theory and in practice, proved him right.

The Renaissance is considered as the age of the bourgeois, humanist and cultivated--or at any rate paying homage to the ideal of humanism. The greatest moments of his day are those spent in some Renaissance palace, conversing with men like-minded with himself and feasting his eyes on scholars and discoverers, statesmen and condottieri. The church becomes, exteriorly, a magnificent palace; interiorly, a hall where the humanist can meet Christ the Hero in company with the saints. A polite, hierarchical society sets the tone, in which the humanist, enlightened bourgeoisie and nobility can meet and mingle. Its culminating image is that of the absolutist prince, and the background to its spacious living is the Baroque castle, set in its formal landscape. Its great state-room, where the prince receives his people, answers to the interiors of the churches of the period, which often stand with a monastery, built, like the castles, into the landscape. In such a church, ceremonious and exuberant in form and color, Christ as the Heavenly Sovereign awaits tthe homage of His subjects. The church becomes "God's salon." A church always succeeds in being religious, i.e. validly itself, when an architect with artistic talent has applied himself to meeting the requirements of the liturgy with the means which his own contemporary style places at his disposal (Dark) (Parkinson 23). A truly religious interior has never been the fruit of deliberate historicism; it comes into existence as a genuine statement of reality, as at this present moment, in architectural terms. And it is entirely beside the point for those who stand for an historically conservative style in Christian churches to cite Chinese and Egyptian temples in their support.

The Renaissance architects worked out plans for such "parochial units"; and sculptors have long since achieved grave-stones of worth and dignity. It has always been the privilege of the patron to give his architect and artists directions concerning the requirements of the cult and of local conditions. That German artists of the sixteenth century were oriented toward Italian art is a fact that cannot be shaken; nor is there a lack of criticism condemning the entire proceedings as apostasy of the Germans from their own individuality. But there is food for thought in the fact that their longing for the South, just as if they saw it as the land of promise, exactly coincided with the period of their own greatest creativity. It was the apocalyptic side of Dürer that was open to the vision of Italy. This was no search for foreign patterns out of a feeling of one's own weakness; rather, in the midst of the impetus of heightened creative power there arose the eager desire to conceive the world in a different way--in more definite shapes, in stricter conformity to rules, in more clearly visible form. To be sure, a variety of inappropriate and misunderstood features were also transmitted, as always happens with imitation; but that has little importance, since the longing for Italy arose, after all, out of needs that had developed independently in the European spirit. If the Europeans had not approached Italy with kindred vision, they would have been unable to see it.

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In sum, during the Renaissance the human nature was seen as a part of God’s nature and reflected this ideal. Modern man affirm his freedom through resolute choice and thus attain integrity, or he can abdicate his freedom, neglect to choose, lose his existential centeredness, and succumb to unauthenticated. This factor is as crucial for an understanding of his analysis and interpretation of human existence as is his description of the self as a synthesis of possibility and necessity. The Renaissance paid a special attention to soul and divine power on the Earth. Painting, buildings and sculptures reflected and ideals of the renaissance philosophy.

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