Disegno and Colore

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Disegno and Colore

Painting in the 16th Century Venice was still caught up in a regional debate which pitted the idea of colore against the much more formal emphasis on disegno. This held sway in the rival Florence. By exploring this philosophical and provincial debate, I have drawn contrasts between the use of colour and outline in selected works by Michelangelo and Titian. I have also looked at to what extent are these attitudes to materials reflective of the social and spatial conditions in the two cities.
The artistic worlds of Venice and central Italy were distinct in the ways in which they chose to express themselves through art. They had different themes, techniques and mediums. They differed in priorities on how to depict art and awareness of what they depicted. This created debates and rivalry between the two cities. Venetian paintings projected ‘mood’ through a visual language which the audience senses (Hall, M 1992: 199) Marcia Hall explains this further:
“The distance from the real world is as great as in central Italian painting, but rather than moving us toward idealizing abstraction, the Venetian painting transports us to a sylvan utopia of heightened sensibilities.” (ibid)
To grasp and appreciate what colore means we have to travel back to the source, to cinquecento Venice. A city built entirely on top of a lagoon with an atmosphere that is hefty and humid. If one could picture it, it would be unmistakable that the reaction of water, light and dampness would create the illusions of unfocused figures and shapes. Venetian artists were trained, if one could say, with an eye to perceive these ‘receptions of light’. Thus making them more attentive to the change of atmosphere and how this in turn would change how a something would appear - unlike the Florentine artists who preferred to paint figures “more as they knew them to be.”(ibid)
Another reason which might have had an effect on why Venetians avoided fresco painting is because of the



Bibliography: * Baxandall, M. Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy. Oxford University Press, London, 1972. * Hall, M. Color and Meaning: practice and theory in Renaissance painting. Campbridge University Press, New York, 1992. * Manca, J. A Historiographic Perspective. Artibus et Historiae. Vol. 16, 1995, pp. 111-123 * Rosand, D. Titian and the Eloquence of the Brush. Artibus et Historiae. Vol. 2, 1981, pp. 85-96 * Wethey, A & Wethey, H. Two Portraits of Noblemen in Armour and Their Heraldry. The Art Bulletin. Vol. 62, pp. 76-96, 1980.

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