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Art



How much do you know about art? Increase your and your child's cultural knowledge by reading short introductions to 3 important styles and periods.


Renaissance

Renaissance in French means 'rebirth', and this movement signifies the rebirth of an incredible interest in the arts and sciences, after years of famine, warfare and the black plague. This movement, however, is primarily Italian, not French, and Florence is considered to be the very heart of this movement.

During this period artists attained an exalted position in society. Artwork was much in demand by the wealthy, who provided liberal support to the artists. There was also a renewed interest in Greek and Roman mythology, and the rich wanted their homes to be adorned with paintings based on these themes. As a result, a large part of renaissance work is based on classical or Christian mythology. Many portraits were also painted at this time. One of the most famous paintings of all time, the Mona Lisa by Da Vinci, belongs to this period. The identity of the woman in this painting still remains uncertain, and there is a theory which states that the painting is really a self portrait of Da Vinci himself, where he has painted himself as a woman - hence, the enigmatic smile.

There is disagreement as to when the movement began, but it is believed to have originated sometime in the 1300s, and carried on until the late 1500s.

Painters: Sandro Boticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo Buonarroti, Raphael Sanzio


Realism

This art movement was born in 1850. To a novice, realism is a style of painting, in which the painter paints something in a very realistic, almost photographic manner. In truth, realism has little to do with the style of painting, and more to do with the subject. Artificiality is rejected, and the artist strives to depict things and people, as they really are - imperfect and flawed. It is the accurate and detailed rendering of nature or life. Women may have paunches and fabric may be frayed. Imagination and idealism has little role to play in such paintings. In short, if it doesn't exist, a realist will not paint it.

Painters: Gustave Courbet, Peter Cornelius, Francois Bonvin


Impressionism

Impressionism is an art movement that developed around the 1860s.

Impressionism, unlike realism, is based on a style of painting. Impressionism is also a form of realism, since most of the subjects of the paintings made by impressionists were drawn from nature or true to life objects. You will not see fairies in a painting made by an impressionist or a realist, although you may see trees, women, dancers, flowers and so on. You will also often see plays and reflections of light in such paintings - which is one of the most important aspects of impressionism.

The word was derived from Claude Monet's painting, "Impression, Sunrise". This painting, along with the paintings of his contemporaries like Renoir and Sisley, were displayed at an art gallery back, and art critic Louis Leroy singled out Monet's painting for criticism. Noting that all the other paintings had a similar theme, he called them the impressionists. The term stuck, and the impressionism movement was born.

Artists: Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Gaugin

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