Storia dell'Arte

Baroque means multifocality and “teather into painting”

Pietro da Cortona, Ratto delle Sabine, 1629-30, olio su tela, dim. 2,80 x 4,26 m, Roma, Pinacoteca capitolina

Main Characters of the Baroque are sitted in front of the fireplace by Pietro da Cortona (Pietro Berrettini, Cortona Italy, Arezzo 1596 – 1669 Rome), Andrea Pozzo (Trento 1642- 1709 Vienna), Giovan Battista Gaulli aka il Baciccia (Genova 1639 – 1709 Roma), and certainly also by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Napoli 1598 – 1680 Roma) architect, sculptore and also excellent painter

30ies of XVII century and it’s the Baroque.

Church has somehow solved problems involved by Luteran Reform and philosophically man is at the edge of any scenario, man is the protagonist but differently in respect of Humanism. 

XVII century primarily belongs to Galileo who writes Nuncius Sidereus mercing to optical new discoveries and secondary to Kepler another scientist who studies planets orbits as Galileo does. 

The Baroque is a breaking style. The management of the scenic space changes and the picture – oil on canvas or fresco – unfolds. No more glimpse of a larger scene, but the whole scene. The desire to capture a specific moment during an event remains of the past, but the shot is wider and the protagonists are incredibly many. A Baroque work needs more time to look at, it is theater in painting

Elettra Nicodemi
Pietro da Cortona, Età dell’argento, 1637, affresco Palazzo Pitti, sala della Stufa

A period in which arises the curiosity for new lands and in which people starts to build the concept of oneself in a global, universal enviroment. Now a single person due to the consequences of the Reform (1517) obtain to be able to think himself as an individual emotionally substained by the community.

As outcome the fracture operated by the Reform has the possibility to renovate the spirituality, tieing opinions of any singular person to the original biblical message.

Pietro da Cortona, Martirio di san Lorenzo, 1643, olio su tela, dim. 2,51 x 2,66 m, Firenze, Chiesa dei santi Michele e Gaetano, Cappella Franceschi (a sinistra)

That fracture also come to a focus the respect to the complexity of a man and cultural guidelines. Jesus does not exists no more as a bearer of a message to be intended ontologically differently he is now considered as the guide who substains and matches a man in the every day present.

Men fells themselves individual, means owner of an unicity. So to this kind of individual the Baroque artist does communicate.     

Baroque artists are committed by pope Urbano VIII Barberini (1623-44), by Innocenzo X Pamphili (1644-1655) and Alessandro VII Chigi (1655-67), starting from sixties of XVII century it is proper to talk of Late Baroque, even though Baroque thickens during the whole XVII century untill during the XVIII century it will soften in Rococò style.

The winning card of these painters is the as called “infinity space”, widely distinct from the XVI century one, due to the fact that baroque infinity space is dynamic, instead of defined as a larger representation glimpse.   

Pietro da Cortona, 1643, Romolo e Remo tra le braccia di Faustolo, olio su tela, dim. 2,51 x 2,65 m, Parigi, Museo del Louvre

Baroque brings theatre in painting. How? Thanking to the new perception of individuality or to the unusual watching quantity of time that everybody is allowed to have. The change is intuible better than describable, like as others succeded in History of art, many of who signs swings in figurative turning.

Baroque infinity space is plural, multiple, it allows the viewer of the painting many moments, many spaces to look at. Narration in a baroque painting is complexive while it maintains the punctual character of the depicted event. The picture is formed by close apposition of numerable scenes, achieved by the excellence in prospective studies and by a silent accord between the watcher and the painter.


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