Changing Role of the Artist from Different Times

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Art is contemporarily defined as the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression. The renaissance is the rebirth of classicism; classicism comes from the ancient Greece and Rome; they portray art to captivate perfection, harmony and order. Italian High Renaissance artists achieved ideal of harmony and balance comparable with the works of ancient Greece or Rome. Renaissance Classicism was a form of art that removed the extraneous detail and showed the world as it was. Forms, colours and proportions, light and shade effects, spatial harmony, composition, perspective, anatomy - all are handled with total control and a level of accomplishment for which there are no real precedents. Up until the middle ages, the role and status of artists in society were similar to other skilled, manual workers. They were usually employed to work on specific commissions. Most artists worked anonymously. Any prestige associated with an artwork reflected more for or about, rather than on the artists. Until the 18th Century artists learnt their ‘trade’ as apprentices in the workshops of established artists. In retrospect this was the time period of sexual discrimination; men were still seen as highly regarded over the typical status of women. So only men could be certified and had the opportune to be an artist. During the renaissance there was a new emphasis on art as an intellectual activity, not just a manual skill. This altered the role of the artist; the renaissance artists played an active role in the intellectual life of the period, many of them wrote treaties on subjects such as perspective and painting. Their achievements as individuals were now recognised, and often celebrated. Some artists, such as Michelangelo Buonarroti, were seen as having almost divine creative powers. This established artists as geniuses. Artists were portrayed as artist heroes- the artists creative powers were a revelation of god’s creative powers on earth. The artist as a romantic genius was a development of the renaissance artist as a hero. That the superlative artist gained superlative social positions; they were proclaimed as men of genius, their powers of creation exalted as never before. Concept of the artist as a genius was appropriate to an age obsessed with the potential of man and the style of talents personality.

In the late 18th Century a German philosopher Immanuel Kant put forward the idea that artists are geniuses who are born rather then taught. Michelangelo Buonarroti; a renaissance Italian Male (born 1475-1664) was perceived as a born genius. His role as an artist was established as an high renaissance male who was multidiscipline and a mulit-skilled painter, sculpture, poet and scientist of anatomy; he was highly regarded as a ‘god like’ figure. His tumultuous career, with its perpetual struggles and its passionate commitment to art, was to become the master pattern for the romantic genius. Michelangelo’s artistic skills were perceived to originate from birth nevertheless he practised as a trained apprentice at the age of 13 in the workshop of the established art master Domenico Ghirlandaio in Florence. Though as an early artist he was regarded by his father as he proclaimed that “Artists are no better than shoe-makers. The neoplatonic thought that was current amongst all seemed to underlie not only his poetry but much of his paintings and sculptures as he expressed “sculpture is the painting as the sun is to the moon.” Michelangelo’s reputation was established by the sale of a ‘sleeping Cupid’ as a genius antique. In its exquisite finish, its flawless classism, and it evocation of the human activity in the divine and the divine in the human, the pieta is indeed a consummation of fifteenth century art. The perfection of the two figured is informed both by an...
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