What Is Italian Renaissance Art?
Italian Renaissance art refers to art produced on the Italian peninsula, mostly in the Republic of Florence, from about the 13th to the 16th centuries CE. Art historians generally consider the art of the Italian Renaissance to have drawn on newly popular cultural ideas, such as humanism, and to have incorporated newly discovered artistic conventions, including the depiction of nudes, which were considered largely taboo in previous examples of European art. Artists of the period also began to create more realistic-looking works of art with techniques such as linear perspective and chiaroscuro, which allowed painters to add a sense of depth to their paintings. Artists also began to create more secular works, such as portraits of patrons, or landscape depictions.
Many influential creators of art during the Italian Renaissance remain relatively well-known today. Michelangelo, famous for his marble statue of David and his paintings rendered on the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, was considered an influential Italian Renaissance artist. Leonardo da Vinci, creator of the Mona Lisa, was an artist of the period as well. Raphael, who also decorated rooms of the Vatican with works such as The School of Athens, is another relatively well-known artist.
Most art historians consider the Italian Renaissance to have been a time of great proliferation for both art and artists. The city of Florence, which was at the time considered an independent republic, is credited as the birthplace of Italian Renaissance art. Art historians believe a number of contemporary cultural and political influences contributed to the proliferation of art in Florence from the 13th to 16th centuries.
The wealthy Florentine family, the Medicis, is often credited for the proliferation of art in the city. This family, who could not overtly govern the Republic of Florence as its recognized leaders, sought to control the small nation by other means. By patronizing the arts, they are said to have won the admiration, respect, and loyalty of the people and became powerful enough to control the city discreetly behind the scenes.
The philosophy of humanism took hold in Florence at that time, spreading the idea that human beings are capable of independent intellectual pursuits and free will. The Great Schism of the Catholic Church, which saw the emergence of two, and later, three, Catholic popes, was believed to have spurred the creation of art in an almost competitive manner between the rival religious leaders.
Its kind of ironic that Italy played such a big role in the development of western art from Rome all the way up through the Renaissance. But Italy has never become an art capital in the wake of Modern Art.
Of course there are artists and galleries and even entire movements that have been at the forefront of the art world over the last 100 years. But none of of these has dominated the discourse or changed the course of visual art world wide. Rome has never been as important as New York, or Paris or even London. Hong Kong is the new big art city now. Somehow Italy has sort of sat at the back of the pack for the whole ride. I wonder how that happened?
I have always been fascinated by the David statue. As a kid i had a poster of it on my my wall and I had all kinds of nicknacks dedicated to it around my room.
Two years ago I was lucky enough to go to Florence where it stands. Seeing it in person was an amazing experience. First off, it is much bigger than you probably realize. It is on a big podium and David stands over 8 feet tall. The sculpture has this amazing presence. You can feel the energy coiled up in David's muscles.
I do not claim to be an expert on art. But I know that most pieces of art do lot leaving me feeling much. But I was in awe of the David Sculpture. It completely confirmed for me how powerful a masterpiece of art can be.
In all honesty, Italian Renaissance art is probably the most famous art ever made. Many of the most iconic paintings and sculptures in the world come from this period and even people who have no interest in art can name a few artists from this era.
Think about it, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, an on and on. That is an amazing achievement. Every culture in ever part of the world has developed some form of native art. But the one that is most distinct, most well known, at least in the western world, is the art that was made for a comparatively short period of time and in a very small part of the world. That amazes me. Imagine what it must have been like to live back then. The air probably buzzed with creativity.
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