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date: 24 February 2020

Renaissance [Fr.: ‘rebirth’]locked

  • David Young Kim

Extract

[Fr.: ‘rebirth’]

Term generally used to designate a historical period of cultural revival. In art historical scholarship, the Renaissance refers to the pivotal era of artistic production in creative imitation of classical models and values which began in the late 14th century in Italy and spread over the course of the 16th century throughout Europe and beyond. Historiographically, the concept of the Renaissance has defined itself against the Middle Ages (see Carolingian art, §I) with its negative connotations of ignorance, economic decline, and, in the arts, lack of naturalism and depth. Even so, Romanesque , Gothic, and Byzantine (see Early Christian and Byzantine art) formats, iconography, and styles established in previous centuries continued to provide prototypes for Renaissance artists such that art making in this period can be seen as an act of exchange and interaction with the medieval past. While drawing upon medieval strategies and attitudes towards images and image-making, Renaissance artists placed emphasis on certain modes of composition, aesthetic effect, and self-conception. In addition to the renewed interest in antiquity, these included the formulation of perspective, naturalistic depiction of the human figure and landscape, emphasis on proportional architectural forms, and the growing self-consciousness of artists as prominent creative individuals and intellectuals. More than a hermetically sealed epoch with clearly defined geographic and temporal boundaries, the Renaissance and its art continues to raise questions about the possibilities of representation, art making, and selfhood which confront artists and scholars in the present day: how do images forge a relation with the physical remains of the past, and, by extension, ideas about heritage, political legitimacy, and the state? How do reproducible media impact notions of authorship and originality? What role do works of art and representational strategies play in the individual and collective understanding of the world, in both temporal and spiritual dimensions?...

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