The baroque art period had started during an age of enlightenment. During the
17th century, it was discovered that the earth was in fact not the center of
the universe, and with the discovery of the Americas, that Europe was not the
center of the world. The Catholic Church was undergoing massive changes due
to a brief revival after the rise of the protestant church. In order to gain
new support for the faith, the church had called for realistic and dramatic
Baroque had emerged into an art type that focused more on the peasant class
in more naturalistic settings than the earlier art types. Each of the subjects
began to show more movement and energy, having their own personalities with
intense spirituality. The intense emotion reflected in this art was further
dramatized by the heavy contrast between light and dark images.
A fine example of the Baroque painting stile was the painting The conversion
of St. Paul. The image shows movement and struggle as well as depicting their
Saint as someone who had overcome a stable accident opposed to a miracle. The
fact that he was not exalted as a revered figure in this image appalled the
church. The colors were darker, and the focus of the image was on the horse
more than it was on St. Paul.
Each region had taken on its own personality during the baroque period. For
some regions, the baroque period was dark and scary, while in others, the baroque
period was more light and realistic to the common people. Overall, baroque period
was a loose manner of which artists were given artistic license to express themselves.
Rococo is often not even referred as its own era. Many consider it as high
baroque due to it being the more extreme drift from the classical periods before
baroque. It had started as an architecture and decoration art type but had made
a small impression on painting. It emerged during the reign of Louis XIV in
the 1700’s. Many say that Louis the XIV’s regime brought on the
Rococo period because of the lavish spending of the regime sponsored by Louis
the XIV. It was characterized by its light-hearted scenes, pastel colors, curving
forms, cherubs, and the lavish life of the aristocratic class. This radical change from the morbid dark scenes of the
Baroque period seemed as if the rococo period was a rebellion from the template
of depressing and realistic art, however it was just an extension of the loose
painting baroque had become.
The Swing by Jean-Honore Fragonard embodies the entire flamboyant spirit of
the rococo period. The young lady is painted as if in a sweeping motion, with
her limbs in curving forms. Aside from the technical aspects, the idea behind
the painting is playful. The man on the bottom left of the image can see under
the lady’s skirt. Her priest-lover is pushing the lady into this position.
I believe that this shift was an interesting point in art because of the dramatic
change from dark depressing images to those that were light and ridiculous in
spirit. It seems as if the feel of the rococo period was so outrageous that
it would be the modern equivalent of modern culture being fascinated with unicorns.
The baroque period in heavy comparison was emotional yet still precise in the
sense that everything still resembled the subject. The painting ]Judith beheading
Holofernes] by Caravaggio, for example, seems emotional in the sense that this
man was getting decapitated but the women is placid or even slightly annoyed
by the situation. The red curtains in the background seem to highlight the negative
space in the rest of the painting. Caravaggio was truly a master at these emotional
paintings during a time of which most of the emotion in art was directed toward
or implying the love of god. This deviant in art lead to the secular decorative
art form: Rococo.