Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Baroque Art

Throughout history, we can observe that many movements within the music world often go hand in hand with what innovative techniques and ideas are simultaneously being explored within the visual arts. This month, let’s take a look at several of these movements found in both music and art, discussing how both composers and artists attempted to express these new ideas within their work. If you are interested in impressionism, expressionism, cubism, or minimalism, you may want to check out my Music and Art blogs from September 2014.

Today, let’s kick things off by looking at the term “Baroque” and what it means to the art world. Baroque is a French word that comes from the Portuguese “barroco” meaning a misshapen pearl. It applies to the abnormal or exaggerated and originally referred to ornate architecture in the mid-eighteenth century. Critics of the time preferred simpler styles thus, Baroque had a negative connotation. It wasn’t until the following century that people began to look upon this “Baroque” art in a positive light.

Though it is difficult to pin point exact stylistic features of Baroque art and music since it spans such a long period, it is best to loosely mention common traits of the time. Art tended to focus on the dramatic, containing deep color and focusing on light and shadow. The Renaissance period reflected things before an action takes place while the Baroque period showed the action itself. A great example is Rembrandt’s Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair. This is on display at Cincinnati’s Taft Museum of Art. Have you seen it?

Rembrandt's Portrait of a Man Rising from His Chair
Courtesy of wikimedia.org
Next time we’ll look at how some of the dramatic and ornate features found in Baroque art map themselves onto Baroque music!

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