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Mannerism
Mannerism

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Between Renaissance and Baroque

An artistic trend that translates into an aspiration for idealized style and an artificial representation of themes. In art history this term mostly refers to the period between the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque [about 1520 to 1590]. The industrious and awe-inspiring legacies of both Michelangelo and Raphael left in their wake a legion of artists eager to formulate these new innovations into a recognized style. Revolutionary-seeming optical inventions and the ability to create tangible depth-perspective in painting were honed as a particular skill after the Renaissance and out of it came the Mannerists. These artists were famous for astounding the viewer with sheer gaudiness. “Nothing is ever too much” would be a kind of motto in European art culture for the next two centuries, and the Mannerist group was certainly rooted into that philosophy early in the 16 th century. However, the Mannerist obsession with depicting motion in painting, in a style more naturalistic than previously seen would also lay the foundation for the evolution in art during the Baroque.

 

The importance of beauty and aesthetic perfection

Signifying the first truly silly era in art history, these artists had no real intention of educating the viewer and certainly did not wish to comment on reality. Mannerist themes are largely unimportant; both male and female figures abound in inane poses, depicted for the most part as elongated, muscular creatures in twisting motion. No one ever stands still in a Mannerist painting and the general theme is often hard to interpret at first glance, as these works are usually slanted in harshly diagonal compositions, are extremely ‘busy' with large groups of people and heavy with minute detail. The color composition is also consciously harsh- bright, bold colors against the sickly white pallor of the under-painting. The best of the Mannerists managed to infuse their themes with real drama; the swirling ebb-and-flow motion learnt from Raphael loyally translated into human expression and thematic logic. The worst of this group would go on to create ridiculously exaggerated figures in poses that seem unbelievable and totally without purpose.

 





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