Dec 102010
Parmiginino's 'Madonna with the Long Neck' (1534-40)

Parmiginino's 'Madonna with the Long Neck' (1534-40)

Mannerism – Instead of using nature as their teacher, Mannerist artists took art itself as their inspiration. In this regard they were able to call upon the earlier works of such greats as Michelangelo and Leonardo. (Michelngelo himself in his later years was also a Mannerist)

Unlike Renaissance artists who studied nature to find their style, the Mannerists looked first for a style and then found a manner in which to paint it – hence the term mannerism.

Mannerism matured after 1520 (the year Raphael died), when Early Renaissance and the High Renaissance artists developed their characteristic styles from the observation of nature and the formulation of a pictorial science.

Other notable artists of this period include: Correggio and Andrea Del Sarto.

Mannerism was displaced with the arrival of Baroque.

 3:27 pm  Art
Oct 092006
Bauhaus Art Movement

Bauhaus font developed by Herbert Bayer

Bahaus is a school of art, design and architecture founded in Germany in 1919. Bauhaus style is characterized by its severely economic, geometric design and by its respect for materials.

The Bauhaus school was created when Walter Gropius was appointed head of two art schools in Weimar and united them into one. He coined the term Bauhaus as an inversion of ‘Hausbau’ – house construction.

Teaching at the school concentrated on functional craftsmanship and students were encouraged to design with mass-produced goods in mind. Enormously controversial and unpopular with right wingers in Weimar, the school moved in 1925 to Dessau.

The Bauhaus moved again to Berlin in 1932 and was closed by the Nazis in 1933. The school had some illustrious names among it’s teachers, including Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Marcel Breuer. Its influence in design of architecture, furniture, typography and weaving has lasted to this day – the look of the modern environment is almost unthinkable without it.

 10:21 am  Art
Oct 032006
Pre Raphaelite

John Millais - Ophelia, 1850

Formed in the autumn of 1848, the Pre-Raphaelites were a group of nineteenth-century British painters, poets, and critics who reacted against the contemporary Victorian trend towards materialism, and against the neo-classical conventions of academic art.

The group, initially comprising Rossetti, his brother William, James Collinson, the sculptor Thomas Woolner as well as Hunt and Millais, specialised in detailed studies of medieval scenes strong on elaborate symbolism and noble themes.

The name was decided upon as the group aimed to rediscover the painting styles of artists working earlier than the time of Raphael.

This close knit circle did eventually expand to include Ford Maddox Brown and James Abbot McNeil Whistler.

This high point of the Pre-Raphaelites was reached when John Millais’ Ophelia (see above) was exhibited to great acclaim at the Academy Exhibition.

Soon after the group dissolved.

Rossetti, together with William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones formed an alternative Brotherhood based in Oxford, specialising in the depiction of pale, ethereal beauties, while Millais and Hunt went their separate ways but continued working according to the original ideas of the movement.

Pre-Raphaelitism was highly successful during the Victorian era and continued into the early 20th century with artists such as Maxwell Armfield and Frank Cadogan Cowper before becoming out-moded in the 1920s.

 5:36 pm  Art
Oct 032006
Romantic Art Movement

John Constable, View on the Stour near Dedham 1822

Romanticism is an early 19th century European movement.

In the beginning, Romanticism came to mean ‘anti-Classicism’. and the movement took on different characteristics throughout Europe, not just among painters, but also among poets.

In England, poets such as Shelley and Keats emerged.

Byron sought glory and adventure.

Wordsworth expressed a love of nature in words of ‘clouds and daffodils’ and his love of the Lake District.

Landscape painting was explored by Constable, Palmer and others. The Middle Ages were revived as a source of artistic and architectural interest rather than something to fight against.

turner, john williamJohn William Maynard Turner found a radical and expressive technique with which to depict his view of the natural world. Sunrise Between Two Headlands (right) painted in 1826 is a fascinating approach to a landscape.

Other great artists associated with Romanticism include, Caspar David Friedrich, Francisco Goya, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Sir Edwin Landseer and William Blake.

In the United States, the Romantic movement was the Hudson River School of dramatic landscape painting.

Obvious successors of Romanticism include the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the Symbolists. But Impressionism, and through it almost all of 20th century art, is also firmly rooted in the Romantic tradition.

 5:34 pm  Art
Oct 032006
Baroque art Caravaggio

Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus 1601

Baroque Art emerged in Europe around 1600, as a reaction against the Mannerist style that dominated the Late Renaissance.

Baroque Art is less complex and more realistic than Mannerism as the above example by Caravaggio shows.

This movement was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a return to tradition and spirituality.

One of the great periods of art history, Baroque Art was developed by Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, and Gianlorenzo Bernini, among others. This was also the age of Rubens, Rembrandt, Velázquez and Vermeer.

In the 18th century, Baroque Art was replaced by the more elegant and elaborate Rococo style.

 5:27 pm  Art
Jul 272006
Pieta by Michelangelo

Pieta by Michelangelo

For most of us, art as we know it began during the Renaissance period.

This is the period when artists discovered how to paint in a manner that made a flat surface look three dimensional, with depth, shadows and a sense of reality.

For people living in the Renaissance period, art was suddenly as realistic as photographs are to us today.

Renaissance literally means ‘rebirth’.

This rebirth occurred in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries when Italy was quite a wealthy society.

Cities such as Florence and Siena were flourishing banking and commercial centers with global trade, and art was being funded by the Medici family of Florence, the Sforza family of Milan, and with Rome at the center of the Catholic Church, support came from Popes Julius II and Leo X.

Initially, Renaissance artists were determined to move away from religion and turn their attention to the individual man and woman in society. It was a time when individual expression and worldly experience became two of the main themes of Renaissance art.

Leonardo da Vinci was the archetypal Renaissance man. He painted, he was a scientist, an inventor, a sculptor and unfortunately for us, he was also a dreamer.

Many of his best works were so experimental that they have barely survived – but he was an artistic genius without a doubt.

Michelangelo (Buonarroti) and Raphael on the other hand, worked at their craft in a job like manner, producing works regarded for centuries as embodying the classical notion of perfection.

David by Michelangelo

David by Michelangelo

Michelangelo’s ‘David’ or his ‘Pietà’ (at the top of the page) are a high point in Renaissance sculpture, and his ultimate appointment as chief architect on the final phases of St Peters Basilica in Rome when in his 70’s, must stand as testimony to both his architectural and artistic genius.

If you ever have the opportunity to see ‘David’ – housed in Florence – you should bear in mind that this statue has spent centuries in the rain, was sculptured by a 24 year old, and centuries on, it still puts most modern art to shame.

That’s the level that Renaissance artists were at, and why this period in art and self discovery is so important.

Other Renaissance architects included Alberti, Brunelleschi – of Duomo fame – and Bramante whose works are dotted throughout Florence.

Florence remained an important centre for the Renaissance into the 16th century eventually to be overtaken by Rome and Venice.

Some of the ideas of the Italian Renaissance did spread to other parts of Europe, most notably the ‘Northern Renaissance’ epitomised by the works of artist Jan Van Eyck.

By the 1520’s, Renaissance ideas had developed into a movement known as Mannerism – an artform characterised by complex composition, with muscular and elongated figures in complex poses.

Much of Michelangelos and Titians work also belongs to this period.

 4:06 pm  Art