Humanistic and Naturalistic Ideas of Art

How did the arts express humanistic and /or naturalistic ideas during the Renaissance? Explain using one example of art.

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While it is agreeable that the renaissance’s framework was laid by political, social and economic factors, it is also clear that the talent of artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Brunelleschi and Botticelli among others drove the renaissance forward. The Encyclopedia of Irish and World Arts (a) notes that this was achieved through the revival of art styles and forms that were mainly a preserve of the roman and Greeks and the skillful use of linear perspectives in the arts (para.1). Humanism and naturalism however was as a result of the artists’ faith in the dignity of men, and this inspired them to entrench realism in their artistic expression of human figures and faces.

the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Figure 1: the Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s last Supper painting is among the outstanding renaissance arts that not only reflects humanism, but also put real human faces on the subjects of the paintings. Since the story of the Christ’s last supper was a piece of literature that most people just read about, the expressions by the artists helped people who saw the artistic expression of Da Vinci attach more meaning to the biblical story. The creative use of balance, light and lines helped the artist present the two-dimension piece of art in a more authentic version, which captures the three-dimension characteristics of the place where the Last Supper ostensibly took place.

How did Baroque art differ from the art of the Renaissance example used in question #1?

The encyclopedia of Irish and World Arts (b) defines Baroque art as a complex paintings or sculpture meant to create spectacles and illusions (para.1). Most of the baroque art produced in the 17th century was inspired by religious grandeur, greater realism, or an enhanced realist school of thought that was mainly protestant in nature. In religious grandeur inspired art, the paintings and sculptures were commissioned by the Catholic Church which sought to re-affirm its position in the society after the 16th century art which was renaissance in nature. This form of art was bold, extravagant, triumphant and melodramatic. Greater realism on the other hand borrowed some degree of naturalism from the renaissance art. However art pieces in this category were bolder and had more dominant physical presence than was the case with renaissance art. Easel art was also too glossy for realism and naturalism.

Compared with the Da Vinci’s painting, the ‘Last Super’, one notices that Baroque art lacked the proportions that were used by the renaissance artists. Instead, the Baroque artists overemphasized the size and dimensions of their subjects negating the little realism that could be attained from the same. This however seemed to resonate with the same reason Baroque art was founded. According to the Encyclopedia of Irish and World Arts (b), the idea of baroque art was founded by the Catholic Church as a means of conveying the suffering of the saints and the miracles exalted in the Christian faith (para.1).

What were the major features of the Enlightment? How was it connected to technological and scientific advances? Explain

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In renaissance art, features of enlightenment were mainly represented by rationalism and balance used by the artists. As opposed to earlier times, it was clear that the philosophy of humanism had equipped artists with clearer minds that were distance from the spirituality and darkness that shrouded their thinking in the past. As a result, they were able to create more innovative art pieces based on their free thinking or based on interpretations of popular literature. Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ is for example the artist’s portray of Biblical literature. As any creative thinker would do however, Da vinci departed from what many people would have expected the scene to look like (most likely peaceful) and introduced some intrigues in the painting (Heyman para.3).

The kind of free thinking observed in art also infiltrated music, literature, poetry and other parts of the society and this liberation of minds led people to more innovations and scientific discovery. As a result of the free-thinking precedence, people were free to come up with ideas, try them out and if successful, publish them to a wider audience who could use the same to improve their way of living. As such, the renaissance moved laid the ground work to technological advancement and the scientific discoveries that later helped different countries in the industrialization era. To date, scientific discoveries and technological advancement play an important role in the development of any society.

What elements of the Renaissance and or Enlightment culture are still found in American culture today, if any? And do you think this good or bad Explain

While the medieval culture laid more emphasis on the community, the renaissance brought down a different concept that lay more emphasis on an individual. As such, a person for example did not take every thing preached by the Roman Catholic Church as the ‘gospel truth’ since they could read and interpret the Bible on their own. Humanism uplifted individuals to an almost sacred position. In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church had always stressed that the individual was part of the social whole (Heyman para. 1). As a result of the enlightenment that occurred, individualism became a more prominent concept in the society and is still dominant in the American culture. As a result of enlightenment and the thinkers who perpetuated the concept, values such as self-determination, dignity of the individual, self-sufficiency, freedom and privacy were elevated as virtues to be observed by everyone.

Today, Americans look down on welfare because a majority of the population believes that every one should be driven by self-interest to work hard and earn a living. It is these same convictions that form the basis of America’s free economy where the powers of demand and supply rule the market. As such, one can conclude that self-interest forms the basis of the American economy since every one wants to prosper in the ever-competitive social environment. While this is not a bad thing, the sense of community is lost as people pursue their own interests.

Works Cited

Encyclopedia of Irish and World Art (a). Renaissance Art. N.d. 2008.Web.

Encyclopedia of Irish and World Art (b). Baroque Art. N.d. 2008. Web.

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Heyman, Christine Leigh. Puritanism and Predestination. Divining America, TeacherServe©. National Humanities Center. 2008. Web.

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