Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Art Course 2014 - Critical Studies: Classicism vs Romanticism



Some notes I took from the lecture of Classicism and and Romanticism for the Critical Studies module of the course which have been organised into a semblance of coherency.
Naturally we got a question to write about at the end of it all and todays question was
'Should art have a moral message?'

I'll spare you my 300 word answer since it basically boils down to 'Maybe'


  1. One versed in the classics; a classical scholar.
  2. An adherent of classicism.
  3. An advocate of the study of ancient Greek and Latin.

  1. An artistic and intellectual movement originating in Europe in the late 18th century and characterized by a heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the individual's expression of emotion and imagination, departure from the attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion against established social rules and conventions.
  2. Romantic quality or spirit in thought, expression, or action

  1. Ancient Greece:Ancient Greece is considered to be the starting point of understanding western culture due to the fact that the earliest records we have date from this period [1]
  2. Philosphical idea of Humanism. If humanity is the measure of all things then this would be reflected in the artwork of the time.
  3. The trend that we see in the evolution of Greek statues through the Archaic to the Helenisitic periods is that there is a movement towards the more idealised figure.
  4. With the decline of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity the focus of art changed to reflect the spritual rather than the natural world.
  5. During the renaissanceReligious art is in big demand due to black death (1300) and the growing power and influence of the church.
  6. The development of printing press radically changed the shape of the world [2].
  7. Frescos – painting into wet plaster become a staple in churches.
  8. Artists during the renaissance were paid by the church. It was difficult to break away and do something different – which is understandable since the church had the money and he who pays the piper calls the tune.
| Aesthetics of Classicism
  1. Ideal forms
  2. Closed forms
  3. Minimized visible brushwork
  4. Balanced and ordered compositions
  5. Sense of modeling
  6. Depth and perspective
  7. Correct proportions
| Philosophies of Classicism
  1. Reason
  2. Order
  3. The ability of man to shape his own destiny,
  4. Education
  5. Rationality
  6. Logic
  7. Self sacrifice and self discipline
  8. Civic duty and virtue
  9. The human intellect.
| Neoclassicism
  1. 'Twas all the rage in the late 1700's which turned out to be just in time for the French revolution.
  2. At the end of the 17th century in France and Europe there was a renewed interest in mans abilitiy to reason and be reasonable [3] This was the age of enlightenment.
  3. It was argued that reason and logic should be the things to guide humanity rather than a blind devotion to religion. Much of the artwork can be shown to have the signs and symbols of ancient orders somewhere [4]. 
  1. Differed from Classicism in that the pieces were designed to appeal to the emotions of the audience.
  2. Romanticism reminds us that any hope we have of controlling nature is entirely self delusion. All the logic and happy thoughts in the world won't help when nature decides that the new river is going through your home.
  3. Much of the architecture of the Nazi government reflects the classical buildings of Greece. The large sweeping stairs and the massive pillars link with the same building types in Rome. Elsewhere in the world this style of architecture has been taken up by institutions that require the people (collectlively) to trust them.
| Attributes of Romanticism
  1. Choatic
  2. The irrational
  3. Emotional
  4. Wild, untamed
  5. Nature
  6. Dark
  7. Carnal
  1. Note to self, this may or may not be strictly accurate and will probably require investigation. For the purposes of this talk however it's close enough for jazz.
  2. Johan Gutenburg. I've written about him before and don't intend to rewrite it all.
  3. Even though this is known as the age of enlightenment I counter with Slavery, the subjugation of women and all those other little foibles.
  4. It's usually the Freemasons which admited many artists of the day into their ranks. This, by the way is pure conjecture and based on nothing more than a scraping of knowledge.  Even if the masons didn't do the art thing it's the sort of thing that they might have done. - Watch any conspiracy documentary and this point gets brought up sooner or later.

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