The Renaissance

by Walter Pater

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What is a present-day impact of the Renaissance period?

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I would say that one of the realities that emerge from the Renaissance with large impact is the elevation of the artist.  Prior to the Renaissance, the artist held little importance.  It was the patron of the art that was more important.  The artist did not possess as much importance.  This changed with the Renaissance.  Artists like da Vinci and Michaelangelo asserted their own view about that art and artistic creation.  Their voice about their art moved the artist to a level where they did not have to capitulate to public pressure or to conformist notions of the good. Rather, the artist was seen as a source of authority about their own work and other artistic work.  The elevation of the artist is an important result from the Renaissance.

In a similar, though probably not on the same scale as then, one can see this play out now.  The film artist is seen to have a voice of authority that enables them to be able to create their own art without fear of how others will respond to it or how it will be perceived.  Quentin Tarantino is demonstrating the power of the artist in some of the reception to his film, Django Unchained.  Tarantino has come under fire for the use of racially charged language in the film and its entire premise of its view of slavery.  Tarantino demonstrates the tendency of a Renaissance artist in terms of not backing away from the criticism, and rather embracing it, challenging the audience to his own viewpoints:

Personally, I find [the criticism] ridiculous. Because it would be one thing if people are out there saying, "You use it much more excessively in this movie than it was used in 1858 in Mississippi." Well, nobody's saying that. And if you're not saying that, you're simply saying I should be lying. I should be watering it down. I should be making it more easy to digest.  No, I don't want it to be easy to digest. I want it to be a big, gigantic boulder, a jagged pill and you have no water.

There is a level of defiance and voice evident in Tarantino's response.  It is rooted in the belief that the artist knows best and that they are the source of authority on their work.  This is a Renaissance ideal that was seen with the manner in which Renaissance artists viewed their own work.

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