Thursday, March 17, 2011

medieval / renaissance art

In medieval times, the arts were predominantly in the service of religion, as they have been in human societies from the beginning. They were not regarded "aesthetically" as something meaningful and significant in and of themselves, but instead valued only insofar as they revealed the divine. Renaissance artists gradually replaced eschatological with anthropocentric concerns, but during the transition from a God-centered to a man-centered art their works portrayed either a familiar ideal/divine realm or the actual world in which they lived. The artists' "art" consisted of accurately representing that subject matter using craftsmanlike standards of beauty, harmony, and excellence.

- Ellen Dissanayake

1 comment:

  1. This is an unsympathetic oversimplification. The medieval artist wanted to accurately represent the subject, but they didn't consider the material form of the subject to accurately represent the subject. The Renaissance artist, thinking more materialistically, began to think in terms of /structure/: complex, functional systems of many parts. This eventually led to composition in painting, though really not until after the Renaissance (during which "composition" was dominated by Pythagorean numerical mysticism, which did nothing to help with artistic value). More importantly, it led to art more as we think of it today, an investigation of complex systems, rather than a flat medieval presentation of an imaginary eternal essence.