Lighting Techniques in Art Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2676 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] An example of this are the sculpted figures in the portal of the cathedral at Reims, where the figures are not so much a part of the architecture, but rather independent sculptures of their own accord, which are worked into the building. The mannerisms of human forms were exaggerated greatly into a very elegant style, and realism in subjects came into play, both of which would continue into the styles of the Renaissance.

The Renaissance era began between the 1300's and 1400's in Italy. Artists began to make a transition from artisan alone to also study intellectual pursuits such as mathematics and philosophy. A renewal of Classical antiquity akin to the art from before the fall of Rome was discovered, while bringing in some of the elements used during the Gothic period concerning grace and poise of the models. The art created had a realistic and lifelike quality aided by the new emerging scientific discoveries as they related to artistic pursuits. New understandings of perspective and use of light were coming into play in the paintings of the time, and sculpture reflected much of the same leaps in artistic representation of life. Among the first artists to visit Rome to study the ruins of antiquity was Donatello, who would become one of the foremost sculptors of the Renaissance period.

A notable piece by Donatello is the bronze relief of the Feast of Herod and angel sculptures in the Baptistery of Siena, where the figures appear to be bursting to life from the stone. The piece follows the newly discovered rules of perspective very strictly, and the figures all appear to be logically and clearly coming from within the stone. Each figure is positioned in a motion-oriented pose that continues visual flow throughout the entire work. This is an example of a flattened relief. Another very famous and influential piece by Donatello is the bronze David. While this figure is representative of antiquity styles for the nude himself and static balance of composition, this David remains very original in the framing of his young face by the helmet, and the representation of the severed head of Goliath. The bronze almost appears to be animated. Like the paintings of the Renaissance which began to work with revolutionary applications of science to the use of light within the art, Donatello managed to sculpt this David so that the light captures lines in an actively fluid visual appearance, from any angle the statue is observed.

From the Renaissance, art moved towards the Baroque movement starting around 1600. Although this period was more defined by the musical achievements and styles than by those of the visual arts, influential sculptures did play an important role in the era. Baroque art was very much concentrated in Catholic Italy and France, and the styles of the time have been called extravagant, vivid, and detailed. Rubens is considered to be most typical of the movement in the visual arts, portraying very voluptuous women in his work. The most famous sculptor of the period is Bernini. With marble this sculptor achieved details that had previously been seen only in working materials such as bronze. Bernini was able to depict within his art most impressively realistic facial expressions and bodily movements which tend to be fleeting and therefore not accurately portrayed by many artists of the past who would have instead focused on the more lasting physical appearance of the model. Bernini's portrait bust of Cardinal Robert Bellarmine reflects both this awareness, and also that of a very new understanding of how the head actually physically relates to the body. Bernini is also noted for his detailed depictions of the textures of the skin and hair, and the shading on his sculptures was a definite move away from the styles of Michaelangelo and other Renaissance artists who were only beginning to understand the very complex way that light and shadow play visually within art. While Bernini's attention to the organic and physical details of movement and texture made him to be recognized as one of the most sensual sculptors, his work was very strongly influences by his devout Catholicism, and he agreed with the Church that art should be realistic, intelligible, and a call to piety, not dealing with any immoral content.

Following the Baroque period, art went through several periods strongly influenced by (and sometimes indistinguishable linearly from) the Baroque era. There was Classicism, which returned more of the Roman influences to the Baroque color schemes, the Rococo development, which was elegant and elaborate, and Neo-classicism, which was again an attempt to recreate the Greek and Roman art, in many ways like that created during the Renaissance. Romanticism, which was a rebellion against the neoclassicist movement and the industrial age of technology and had no single style, led finally into the Realism of the 1800's.

The Realism movement began in France, and had a definite focus on preciseness and scenes from life, without the blatant emotional freedom of the Romantics. The best known sculptor from this period is Rodin, who managed to incorporate much of the romantic ideals into his realistic work. His first bust, The Man With the Broken Nose, was modeled not after a perfect and flawless youth, but instead a realistic workman, with the smashed nose serving as a reference to the surviving art of antiquity, most of which features broken extremities such as the nose or limbs.

The majority of Rodin's work, however, was inspired by Dante's Inferno. One of Rodin's most famous works, The Thinker, was actually a representation of Dante before the Gates of Hell, becoming a creator. Rodin's philosophical equation that The Thinker is the Poet, and the Poet is the Creator, would not become common thought among writers of philosophy until much later into the 20th century.

The evolution of sculpture from the architecturally-based Gothic period, to the return to antiquity and Roman art and new ideas about light-use and perspective of the Renaissance, to the very Catholic and extravagant Baroque period, and the many interluding movements that finally brought sculpture to a more modern place in the nineteenth century with the works of Realism, shows both a desire to return to artistic roots and a need to grow beyond that which has already been created. Each period had innovative techniques and original artistic ideas which would influence all art that followed by creating a new standard which could be adhered to, added onto, or completely revolted against by the next generation of artists. Sculpture continues to reflect the movements of religion, architecture, painting, and science in every period of time.

Bibliography

Douma, Michael. "Vision Science and the Emergence of Modern Art." Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement. http://webexhibits.org/colorart/

Hartt, Frederick. 1976. Art: A History of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Hildesheim. "History of Painting and Sculpture." Quick Reference. http://www.hildesheim.co.uk/quickreference/art/painting.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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