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About Renaissance and Baroque Architecture

Updated on September 18, 2012

We know the Renaissance as the movement that encompassed all cultural phases in Europe. Started for that of the 14th century, although its peak emerges in the 15th century and 16. This movement arises in Italy for the first time. Renaissance is a cultural trend that is looking to a classic style. Trying to maintain a model of ancient Greece and Rome. In addition, it generates an intense preoccupation with secular life. The man's thought is centered on man himself. It is reflected in the freedom that man can have, both in spirit and freedom of thought, linked with nature. The man becomes the center of the universe. The main source of knowledge is the reason. It is a time of great discoveries that are driven by a huge interest for people to explore all aspects of the world and nature. This period can also be said that is a realist in art and perfectly mimics reality. It is also a narrative time: in the works is an attempt to tell stories and real events in politics, religion and so on.
Renaissance art began to experiment with depth and perspective.
The renaissance is then divided into two main periods: the quattrocentro, is located to the 14th and 15th century and is the time where it starts from Florence to the rest of Italy, and the cinquecento, happens in the 16th century in Italy and the rest of Europe (except Russia).
It all begins in Italy in the city of Florence. This architecture is primarily concerned with maintaining order and proportions. Among the features that can define the Renaissance period is: harmony and balance. Renaissance architecture recovers ancestral knowledge. No copy of the Greco-Roman style, more a reinterpretation of the classical style. The structures and design work with an intention behind the perspective and proportions. Working with basic shapes, Greek and Roman orders reappear. Among the elements that shape the Renaissance are the arched dome, the arch, barrel vaults and edges.
As a precursor of Renaissance architecture,there is Filippo Brunelleschi. He "creates" a new style beign the first and dictating a sytle for upcoming works in this period. In his most famous works is the Dome of Florence Cathedral or St. Mary of the Flowers (Figure 1).The dome is an essential component, impossible to ignore for the church and also for the city as it serves as a visual on it. Also the churches of San Lorenzo and Holy Spirit, Chapel Pazzi and Palazzo Pitti. Among its buildings we can identify classical orders-Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.He also applies a system of proportion and symmetry. It seems simple, but it is not.

Another of the greatest architects of the Renaissance is Leon Battista Alberti. The architect used the term "ornament" to describe the system of pillars and architraves that adopts classic touch in his designs. His work always had an intention to extract features of the styles that were used in ancestor's times , reinventing Renaissance. Some of his works that prove this are: Tempio Malatesta (Rimini, 1450) and the Church of Santa Maria Novella (Figure 2). Alberti uses elements of Greco-Roman culture, not only aesthetically, but uses design strategies and construction of this culture on these new buildings.

The architecture also takes a landscape approach with Palladio. Andrea Palladio shows the importance of landscape in the design of his country villas. Although the landscape and the countryside make great importance, his houses don't lose the characteristics of symmetry and axiality. Some of his works are: Villa Emo, Villa Rotonda.
After this age of "reason" as a source of knowledge, symmetry, and reinventing the classical; the Baroque period comes. The baroque epoch is a pessimistic time and it generates a lot of confusion. People began to think about the religious dogma, the question of predestination versus free will, dreams and reality. It's time of many contradictions. But it is also the cultural era that calls for all forms of art. There was an intellectual revolution in Europe, particularly in Spain, which gave birth to the best literary works in history. Also known in painting by Goya and Velazquez. Lope de Vega created a new way of doing theater breaking the classic patterns of the three basic units of time, place and action, which were used in the Renaissance. It is a time when questions about religion will rise. There is much thought of life and death. And are extremist thoughts, for example, there was the religious fanatic and atheist. The Baroque is presented as a powerful effort to go beyond the ordinary limits of existing ones.
The architecture of the Baroque facades take on great importance for decoration, including cornices, columns also Greek, Roman. Buildings also began adopting the circular shape, sometimes. Another of the main features of Baroque architecture in buildings, especially in cathedrals, they want to look for special effects. They study how the light will enter a space, etc.. taken into consideration such details leading to the architecture a little beyond proportions and sizes. It becomes a symbolic architecture in most cases. Clearly, we can see the predominance of the decorative and ornament above the structural factors of the building. There is a lot of attention to detail.
Some of the greatest Italian architects of the Baroque era are Bernini, Borromini and Pietro da Cortona. Of Bernini's most famous works include the Basilica of St. Peter and the Church of Sant'Andrea al Quirinale (Figure 3).
The baroque proves to be unhappy renaissnace. The Baroque is revealed before the Renaissance. Although a period marked by pessimism and sadness, it begins to pay attention to detail and see the architecture from another perspective, observing the possibilities of how we feel within a space. In the Renaissance, attention is paid to the landscape and the sights, but the baroque pays attention to the interior. The feeling inside the work, without ruling out the details of the facade. As always contradicts the baroque, with lots of detail on the facade and then with great special effects inside. It was a transition that raised questions and these questions led to new knowledge in architecture.


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