January 4, 2015
Baroque Art: What is it and why do we care about it?
The Baroque is often thought of as a period of artistic style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, architecture, and music. The style began around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread to most of Europe. It’s defined as “a style of European architecture, music, and art of the 17th and 18th centuries that followed mannerism and is characterized by ornate detail. In architecture the period is exemplified by the palace of Versailles and by the work of Bernini in Italy. Major composers include Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel; Caravaggio and Rubens are important baroque artists.” (Bing Dictionary) However, the word “baroque” seems to have a slight negative connotation-the original translations of this word include Italian for “tortuous medieval pedantry” and Portuguese for “deformed pearl.” In other accounts, Baroque is associated with strange, bizarre, and spectacle. This is probably because of the art side of the baroque period: controversial artists such as Peter Paul Rubens captured voluptuous women on canvas in The Rape of Lucretia and The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini in The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. So why is all this this important to us? Well, despite being a bit provoking and over-extravagant, the baroque period was also beneficial. In addition to producing the earliest European music familiar to most of us, including Pachelbel’s Canon and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the baroque era also greatly expanded our horizons. The acceptance of Copernicus’s 16th century theory that the planets didn’t revolve around the earth made the universe a much larger place, while Galileo’s work helped us get better acquainted with the cosmos. The philosophical aspect of the baroque makes it important; and the vestiges of the era are still heard...
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