What Is Renaissance Art?

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The Renaissance period of art was full of great innovations as artists expanded their technical skills of making super-realistic images both in paint and in sculpture. Discover the origins of famous Renaissance art with information from an art historian, critic and curator in this free video on art.

Part of the Video Series: Art History Genres
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Video Transcript

Hi, Dr. Betty Brown here. Topic is Renaissance Art. I like to think of fourteen ninety two as a keystone date for the Renaissance. It is of course the year that Queen Isabella of Spain sent Columbus on what became a voyage of exploration and conquest, or which led to conquest I should say, but what he saw as a way to make a new trade route. So one of the key elements of the Renaissance was European expansion for trade and ultimately exploration and conquest. As Europe expanded geographically, artists expanded technically. They used everything in their power to make their images look more real and to convince the viewer of that reality. You may never have heard of Bruenalesky, but I'll bet you've heard of all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello. And those four are the great renaissance masters who took the advances of realism and convincing portrayal to create soaring, soul soaring images and objects. Everything from Michelangelo's gorgeous immense nude of the young David to Leonardo's Last Supper, now have iconic presence in our culture. They're so ever present in advertising and the mass media that it's a little hard for us to realize that they were stunning often controversial innovations in their time; that people threw stones at Michelangelo's David as it was transported out of his studio because they didn't think a nude figure should ever be made so large. That people looked at Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling and said, Who's that guy with the long gray beard. They didn't recognize the muscle bound figure as an image of God. Today, we take it for granted that those artists were not just technically geniuses, they were conceptual geniuses as well. And they introduced to us a whole new range of visual art.

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