Wells

How to Look at Great Art-Tools for 25-27

How to Look at and Understand Great Art - Tools from Lectures 25-27

Lecture 25: Mannerism and Baroque - Distortion and Drama (13.05.19)

How to recognise Mannerist art:
⦁ It breaks the rules of Renaissance neoclassicism.
⦁ The palette consists of tertiary or "off" colours.
⦁ Objects show distorted proportion, size, perspective; space is truncated.
⦁ Human figures are elongated.
⦁ The overall impression is artificial, rather than natural.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How are colour, proportion, and perspective in this work different from High Renaissance art? How can I enjoy something so different and so elegant?

How to recognise Baroque art:
⦁ The rules of the Renaissance are bent to produce drama.
⦁ The palette is returned to basic colours (highly saturated primary and secondary), figural proportions, and classical scale.
⦁ Line and colour are expressional.
⦁ Scenes are highly dramatic, intense, and exuberant.
⦁ We see strong contrasts of light and dark.
⦁ Painters use impasto to build up texture.
⦁ The scene has no background, and the foreground pushes into the viewer's space, or there is extreme contraction or expansion of space.
⦁ Composition uses strong diagonals and less symmetry.
⦁ The subjects are "big" - royalty, exploration, great architecture, and so forth.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How are colour, scale, and the human figure in this work similar to High Renaissance art?
⦁ How is the use of drama, light and shadow, and spatial manipulation different from High Renaissance art?

Lecture 26: Going Baroque - North versus South (13.05.19)

How to recognize Spanish, Flemish, and Italian Baroque art:
⦁ It is heavily influenced by the Catholic Church: religious stories and divine visions are major subjects, and it often uses symbols referring to the lineage of the pope.
⦁ It uses strong visual effects to excite and teach.
⦁ Diagonals and spatial expansion are used to create extreme drama.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do subject choice and didactic purpose distinguish this work from other forms of Baroque art?

How to recognise French Baroque art:
⦁ Royal absolutism and the divine right of kings (and of Louis XIV in particular) are major themes.
⦁ Works show strong classical influences.
⦁ Foregrounds are pushed forward, and point of view is dramatic.
⦁ Works are exuberant, with an abundance of figures, details, and decoration.

Ask yourself:
⦁ How do presentation and the influence of absolutism distinguish this work from other forms of Baroque art?

How to recognise Dutch Baroque art:
⦁ It is influenced by Protestantism, with Christian subjects aimed at private buyers, not an established church.
⦁ Canon contains genre paintings, portraits, and still lives.
⦁ Lighting is intense and dramatic.
⦁ Compositions are dynamic, with extreme depth.
⦁ Landscapes do not conform to classical proportions.
⦁ Painters use impasto textures to create drama.