Monday, October 17, 2011

The New Renaissance

The Primavera by Sandro Botticelli more than meets the eye

The Renaissance was one of the most important historical movements in history.  The very word itself, rinascimento , means rebirth. It was just as much of an intellectual movement as it has an artistic movement.  The Renaissance period allowed us to be who we are today.  It was about educating yourself and forming your own opinion, breaking free from the medieval ideas that life revolved around death and that your only reason for living was assuring your passage into heaven. The Renaissance was about presenting the viewer or reader with just enough information to allow you to form your own opinion. It was about breaking away from strictly religious points of view and taking the viewers experience into consideration. And while most of the work was still created on a commission basis for very specific reasons, there were some of the most important artist of the time such as Michelangelo and Botticelli who began to incorporate the ideas of artistic expression and conceptualism into their work as well as the sense that being an artist is about so much more than just making pretty things for people to look at but rather something to contemplate and consider in terms of personal thought and feeling. When you visit the city of Florence today you can feel that energy, the sense of creativity is everywhere.
Michelangelo's David is contemplative and mesmerizing, yet the only clue we have to him being the biblical hero is his name. But he is giving us so much more than that.
Charlie White addresses the subject of David and Goliath by referencing history though contemporary medium.
 When I worked as a tour guide one of the questions that I was often asked was “are their even artists that can do this anymore?” Or comments like “you just don’t see this kind of work anymore” Or similarly about how they just “don’t understand art these days” and how they or their "child could do that", and that “this is real art” There have only been a couple of times when I actually ventured to answer these questions and try and help people see things in a different way, mostly because the topic of contemporary art is much to complex to sum up in just a few sentences.

I guess the easiest way to explain the importance and significance of contemporary art is to compare it to contemporary music.  We all know how important Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin were and the contribution that Elvis, the Beatles and Run DMC made to the music world. They opened the door for the artists after them and allowed them to experiment with new ideas and styles of music. Think of it like this, why would we want to keep hearing the same music over and over again?  Doesn’t that get a little boring?  Sure, we can still appreciate those artists and I for one will never tire of the Beatles, but the forward movement is what keeps the art world going, constantly questioning traditional ideas and exploring new mediums.  Sure there are still artists that sculpt with marble, but honestly in order to stand out in the art world something needs to be different about the work.  So don’t be so quick to dismiss contemporary art. Think about it; venture to go deeper than what is on the surface. Think not only about technique, but context and concept.  In our society we want everything to be easy, we want it all handed to us, we don’t want to think and we just want to look at pretty things. The question you should be asking yourself when viewing contemporary art is not necessarily what the image is supposed to be but rather what the artist is trying to say and why. 
Is this really no more than an unfinished sculpture? In the complex and complicated mind of Michelangelo who was constantly trying to break free from the restraints placed upon him, I have many doubts. 

  What is your favorite work of art? And why? What do you think about contemporary art? Tell me in  the comments section below.


  1. I love all kinds of art. I'm a painter myself and I'm actually more of a classic one, even though I really like to explore new techniques and challenge my self in my own thinking. I like contemporary art, when I like it. So to speak. As well as I might not like all of Da Vinchi's art. I think though, that sometimes you can get the feeling with contemporary art - that the focusing on new thinking is so big that the artist seem to do anything just to be "new". But, in my world, everything that makes you feel something is a success. As you are saying - what's the artist actually trying to tell us with the piece of art? Artist are suppose to reflect the truth in a way to make people see it and thunk about it. And the truth isn't always beautiful.

  2. Hi H, I completely agree that a successful work provokes feeling in the viewer and that does not always necessarily mean happiness. Our world is bigger than ever before and art is most certainly a language that allows us to communicate our message to a broader audience. And because of this, contemporary artists have more subject matter to address which in turn may make some people uncomfortable. I very much value the classics as well and hope that more people will begin to understand the importance of both. Very well said H, thanks for your comment!


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