Renaissance Classicism

Renaissance Classicism was a form of art that removed the extraneous detail and showed the world as it was. From Classicism sprang two movements: a countermovement that was extremely anti-classicist, Mannerism, and a later movement that became a sort of exaggerated Classicism on a grand scale portraying power and authority - Baroque. Before and during the Reformation, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo defined the Classicist art movement. However, a disheartened Michelangelo later introduced Mannerism with the dissonance and anxiety in his The Last Judgment. Mannerism, which (in a way) represented the human soul during in the Reformation, defined itself by breaking all the rules. Baroque art entered the scene after the Reformation bringing grandeur and normalcy, introducing nothing paradoxical, showing only the didactic lesson.

The Classicists entered on the heels of an artistic revolution, which was popularly known as the Renaissance and ushered in during the Reformation (da Vinci and Raphael died during the years Martin Luther was ordered to recant). The use of light, shadow, foreshortening, and perspective had been perfected and was at the fingertips of these great artists. Classicism idealized the world as it was and as the artist felt it. Classicism left out the extraneous detail to go for the truth of the matter and emphasize the noble. This style of painting was the first to stress a balance and harmony in art and nature. Furthermore, it was subsidized by the Pope primarily for the painting of his chapel and by the rich Italian families that wanted to have that which the Church had.

Da Vinci, even with his unexplainable dissonance, mastered the harmonious in his paintings as he used space to even out The Holy Family with St. Anne and The Madonna of the Rocks. The Last Supper portrays Jesus standing out, not because he is at the center of the painting, but because he represents calm in a chaotic time.

Raphael's School of Athens borrowed from da Vinci's The Last Supper in its arrangement of characters. However, Raphael chose to show the classical thinkers of Greece and Rome vice da Vinci's Christ and the Twelve. He displayed them modestly, each in a pose that epitomized the individual. Sister Madonna continued such modesty and gave nobility to The Virgin Mary that had never before been seen.

Michelangelo would be arguably the most powerful of the classists, unintentionally influencing the Manneristmovement with his anxious painting. This talented sculptor, painter, architect, and poet would finish the Sistine Chapel ceiling in less than five years (1508-1512). His painting on this ceiling was an extraordinary accomplishment portraying the anatomically correct human body in any position. His Holy Family featured more motion in a smaller space with figures looking almost sculpted, like Greek gods. In 1534, he completed The Last Judgment. At the peak of the Protestant Reformation, this painting displayed the dissonance, anxiety and chaos ripping at the church's fabric. In doing so, it gave rise to an art movement that had already begun to rumble - Mannerism.




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