Baroque Art Essay, Research Paper
Characteristics of Baroque Art
Baroque is the general term given to the style of artistic expression from the late 16th century to the middle of the 18th. Ironically, the term was first used contemptuously by critics to describe architecture and paintings that failed to meet their standards of beauty. Baroque art is an “intense movement of explosive energy.” It is a powerful, awe inspiring, resplendent style that is full of flamboyant concepts and an overall dramatic quality. There are three categories of Baroque art: Counter-Reformation Church of Rome; the aristocratic courts of Louis XIV of France and the Stuarts of England; and the bourgeois merchants of Holland.
Counter-Reformation Baroque was created by the Jesuits in 1534. Michelangelo Merssisi da Caravaggio startled the world with his The Conversion of St. Paul. The paintings’ biblical scene was that of one never seen before. Caravaggio displayed chiaroscuro throughout the entirety of the canvas which first shocked then enthralled contemporary artists. When of Saul of Tarsus experiences his vision of Christ, he seems to be weighted to the ground with energy not allowing him to arise. The drama is overwhelmingly resilient. Another example is Gianlorenzo Bernini’s David. It was unlike any of the previous sculptures of David because this one brings life to the moment of action. He creates David with a stern glare while biting his lip in concentration. Bernini combined intensive energy with solid movement and forces one to do a double-take for assurance that it is not a photograph of the actual moment.
Aristocratic Baroque’s first leader was Peter Paul Rubens. With his rich pleasing attributes, Rubens created The Assumption of the Virgin and almost instantly established his reputation as a renown artist. This reputation-creating painting was stunning with it’s bold coloring and consistent energy flowing throughout the painting. The Assumption of the Virgin is a brilliant portrayal of the Aristocratic style. Nicolas Poussin also carried the same brilliant portrayal for aristocratic style although his works were entirely different from Rubens. Poussin used control and definite barriers between different objects and shading. Poussin did not favor color because he felt that it was “accidental with light.” In Holy Family on the Steps, Poussins’ style is quite evident. The exactness of the lines and his use of perspective show the uses of control and absolute value.
The third category was in Holland and called Bourgeois Baroque. It is unlike the resplendent works of other countries and the noble distinction of France. During this period, owning paintings in your home seemed to become almost a fad to, so the demand was great. Such demand allowed Frans Hals to become “the first of the great Dutch masters.” He created portraits that are unparalleled in his creative uses of liveliness. For example, The Laughing Cavalier gives a sense that the cavalier will blink any second. Intensity is beaming from the glare the cavalier is giving while he smirks. There is also a sense of movement in the shadows behind the cavalier. Another notable example is Rembrandt van Rijn. In The Descent from the Cross, Rembrandt uses contrasting light and dark which intensifies the main areas of the painting?the body of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The expression of the faces and the careful placement of helpers show that tenderness and sorrow are the moods used in the movement of Christ from the cross.
During the Baroque period, the aesthetic ideal permeated virtually all aspects of European culture?from architecture to furniture design and modes of dress. Although
Baroque art faded out in the early 18th century as it evolved into a more delicate Rococco style, it was later applied to music and to literary movements. As it is with any period of art, the Baroque gave birth to quite a few respected and popular artists that are still enjoyed today.