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The Renaissance was a period where the ideas of humanism became important. Humanism was an intellectual movement during the Renaissance that emphasized classical learning and human potential and achievements. This Renaissance thinking was reflected in the art of the period. Renaissance art became much more realistic, using a technique called perspective, giving paintings a three dimensional appearance as opposed to the two dimensional artwork from earlier times. Perspective used parallel lines that ran away from the viewer until they appear to meet at a point on the horizon. Drawing people larger in the foreground also made art appear three dimensional. As in Medieval times, religion was still an important topic for Renaissance artists, but instead of conveying a spiritual ideal as Medieval artists did, Renaissance artists portrayed religious subjects as realistic and human, copying from classical Greek and Roman models. The Renaissance also emphasized individual human achievement and this too was reflected in the art of the period. Renaissance artists painted realistic portraits that emphasized what was distinctive about each individual. Because the Renaissance ideals emphasized the individual and the potential of the human person, artists such as Michelangelo glorified the human body.
I would say that the emphasis on the individual and, in particular, the artist is one way that the art of the Renaissance reflected its ideals. Emerging from the Dark Ages, where human beings were not seen in the most positive or glorifying of lights, the Renaissance asserted the value and glory of the individual. The artwork of the time period did not focus as much on God as how human beings are created in his likeness or might actually supersede it. Renaissance art was animated by artists who asserted both the glory of the individual and the glory of themselves in the process of creation. Michaelangelos’ “David” is a praising of the human subject and the artist did not deny that his creation was perfection. Similarly, the construction of the Sistene Chapel’s depicts the critical moment of God giving life to Adam. Note again the idea that God is seen only as far as man’s construction of him. Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is a work of art that is specifically designed to enhance both the technical precision of the artist and the appreciation of the work that he created. These ideals which helped to praise the individual and the levels to which he can aspire are highly evident in the art of the time period.
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