The Basics of Renaissance Art

In a world where everybody’s interested in all things highly technical— even art is digitalized, sometimes it’s a good breather to look back at historical art. Back in the days, art was considered as highly philosophical and not just a hobby. People spent time learning about art because it calmed people’s emotions and expand their minds. 

So now, we’re taking you back to the Renaissance period. Below are some of the basic things you may be interested to know about Renaissance art.

Period of Renaissance Art

            The Renaissance period started from the 14th century to the beginning of the 16thcentury. The start of this period was a time of great crisis. The chaos in the Catholic Church shook people’s faith in religion, government, and even their fellow men. During this ‘dark’ period, Europeans desired for a culture rebirth, hence, the term ‘renaissance.’

            The Italians began the movement to rediscover art, along with the philosophies, writings, and architecture of the ancient Greeks and Romans. All these gave inspiration to artists and allowed greater flexibility in the artworks they produced. 

Characteristics of Renaissance Art

Technique & Medium

The common medium in the Renaissance was ‘fresco.’ The colors are made by grinding dry-powder pigments in pure water before it’s set with the plaster to become a permanent part of the wall. Artists using this technique had to work quickly because the plaster dries fast. 

 Subject Matter & Inspiration 

Since artists were discovering many Greek and Roman pieces during this time, most artworks are inspired by such details. Renaissance artists were also trying to make their viewers feel emotions in their artworks, so more realistic details can be found in human subjects. The Catholic Church also commissioned a lot of artwork during this period so many Biblical subjects were created. 

Stability & Symmetry 

One prominent characteristic of Renaissance art is its stable, symmetrical composition. Linear perspective, horizon line, and vanishing points are visible in most artworks. The most preferred shape was the triangle or pyramid because of its stability. 

Vitruvian Man
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

Major Players of Renaissance Art 

            The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lived during this period and they set the standard of Renaissance art. They are considered the four greatest masters of Renaissance period. 

Leonardo da Vinci 

Known as a true Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci was an artist, inventor, draftsman, and polymath. He was famous for his pieces: “Mona Lisa”, “The Last Supper,” and the sketch of the “Vitruvian Man.” 

Michelangelo 

His full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Bounarotti Simoni. He was an architect, artist, poet, and engineer. His most famous works are sculpture of David, the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel which depicted scenes from Genesis, and The Last Judgment placed on the altar wall. 

Raphael

Raphael, whose full name was Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was a painter and architect. His major paintings Madonna of the Pinks, Sistine Madonna, and The School of Athens can be viewed in the Raphael rooms in the Vatican. 

Donatello

The sculptor among the four artists is Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi. He was a master in both marble and bronze sculpture but he also created a wooden sculpture of Penitent Magdalene. His other works are bronze sculpture of David and bronze roundel of Chellini Madonna. 

Famous Renaissance Artworks 

The Last Supper 

This painting created by Leonardo da Vinci in 1948 depicted a vibrant scene filled with real emotions from the 12 apostles. One man is even depicted to be the one who will betray Jesus Christ. 

The Last Supper
The Last Supper

 The Creation of Adam 

One of Michelangelo’s magnificent creations is this section found in the Sistine Chapel which displays the idea of a man being a co-creator with God. For a long period of time, God was seen as a powerful individual whom people got scared of. In Michelangelo’s painting, God and Adam were created having the same muscular body type, same height, and fingers almost touching. This signifies man’s divine potential – expressing that God is like us and we can become like him. 

The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam

School of Athens 

Created in 1510, Raphael depicted all the great philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome. This is an example how Renaissance artists were inspired by them. One interesting thing about this painting is how the two greatest philosophers Plato and Aristotle were created. Plato was pointing to the heavens to depict how he believed in the realm of Forms and Aristotle pointing to the earth to highlight his belief on the realm of things. 

School of Athens
School of Athens

Statue of David

Believing that sculpture was the highest form of art, Michelangelo created the statue of David in 1504. It was the first free-standing nude statue since the days of antiquity. It was a celebration of the ideal human form. The subject is believed to be depicting the time when David was thinking of slaying Goliath. 

David
David

What Makes an Artwork Expensive?

How is it possible that a canvass covered with paint costs so much more than the house where you will hang it on? Well, below are the different factors that affect a painting’s value. 

Authenticity & Popularity of the Artist

There are painters and photographers whom we already considered as legends. So, any copy or inspired work from that painter, will definitely be cheaper than the real one. However, if an artist is popular at the time the painting is sold, then he can charge more. 

Provenance & History

When it comes to artwork, history is an important determining factor. If a work once belonged to a prominent director or from a respected gallery, then it will cost more. The stories behind those works make it even more interesting. If the work also plays a major role in a certain art period, then that’s another ‘0’ to its price. 

Medium and Condition of the Art

In general, works on canvas will sell more than those made on paper. This means, paintings will cost more than the sketch or a print an artist made. The condition, however, of the artwork plays a significant part. For example, an artwork damaged by the sun or even a small tear will mean a deduction on its price. 

Subject Matter

This may come as a surprise to others but certain subject matters tend to sell better than others. Generally speaking, paintings of beautiful women draw more attention than paintings of men. Sunny landscapes and calm seas are preferred over those dark ones. Of course, this doesn’t apply to works of famous painters. 

Wall Power

What exactly is wall power? It’s the artwork’s power to draw inspiration and attention from the audience by just hanging it on the wall. This is difficult to explain, but if a painting seems to capture more, then it sells more. 

Art Gallery

Most Expensive Paintings in the World

By this time, you might be thinking which paintings made it to the list of the most expensive paintings in the world? Here are 5 paintings worth knowing. Well, you probably won’t be buying any of these artworks anytime soon, but who knows, you might become a billionaire and those dream paintings might actually be a reality? 

1. Salvador Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci

This piece was sold at an auction in 2017 for a hefty $450 million! It was bought by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed which will soon be displayed in his future cultural centre. 

2. Interchange by Willem de Kooning

This abstract painting was one of Kooning’s first abstract landscape works. In 2015, it was sold for $300 million to CEO of hedge fund Citadel, Kenneth Griffin. 

3. Number 17A by Jackson Pollock

This painting made by the most famous abstract expressionist painter of all time was sold for $200 million. 

4. The Card Players by Paul Cezanne 

Sold in 2011, the piece was brought home by the Royal Family of Qatar for about $250 million. 

5. Nafea Faa Ipoipo by Paul Gauguin

Translated as “When Will You Marry?”, this piece was sold for $300 million to Qatar’s royal family. 

How Do You Price Your Artwork? 

If you’re an artist yourself, you might be wondering if there’s a formula to price your artwork. Luckily, there is a simple formula you can follow when deciding how much each of your creation costs. First, you have to remember pricing is directly related to your position and reputation in the industry. This means you can’t get the same prices as artists who already have credentials — not yet!

Art Gallery

When you’re just starting out, it would be advisable to make your work as affordable as you can, but not to the extent of not making even a small profit out of it. Especially, if you’re working with galleries, it’s important to note that they take 50% commission from sales, so you have to consider that as well. 

Here’s the formula you can follow: 

1. Multiply the width and length to get the total size. 

2. Then, multiply that by the amount you think is appropriate for your reputation. Perhaps, $2-$4 if you’re relatively new. 

3. Now, add the cost of the materials. 

Example: 16”-x-20” oil-on-linen landscape painting; materials cost $200

  1. 16×20 = 320 
  2. 320 x $2 = $640 
  3. $640 + $200 = $820 

If this painting sells, you’ll get $410 after deducting the gallery’s commission. 

Of course, this may vary if you take into account your emotions regarding that painting. Some artworks just seem to have that sentimental value, so you can add more to that. You can also increase your pricing as you sell more paintings. 

The Most Notable Art Nouveau Artists

Back in the 19thcentury where classical and historical styles were popular, an art movement started to modernize art designs. This movement is called “Art Nouveau.” It was also known by various names such as the Glasgow Style, or, in the German-speaking world, Jugendstil. 

Seeking to escape the eclectic historical styles, artists of this movement drew inspiration from natural elements like flowers or insects, and also geometric patterns and curves. The use of intense colors was a common theme too. This movement was also committed to abolishing the notion that liberal arts like painting and sculpture are superior to craft-based decorative arts. 

Art Nouveau’s influence reached far beyond the classic artworks. In fact, most artworks are found in opaque naturalistic glassware, carved furniture, decorative arts like door handles, chairs, chandeliers, and wallpapers, and even advertising materials like posters. In general, Art Nouveau is considered a significant predecessor to Modernism.

Below are some of the most notable artists specializing in decorative art, architecture, and glass work which this movement has produced.

Gustav Klimt

Austrian painter Gustav Klimt founded the school of painting known as Vienna Sezession. He specialized in the execution of mural paintings, the most controversial was the one he made for the ceiling of the University of Vienna. 

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt
The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

Klimt was known for erotic symbolism. His most successful work is his painting (oil on canvas), “The Kiss.” In this work, he highlighted the lush sensuality of the human figure by surrounding it with brilliant ornamental decoration. This painting is considered a leading example of the Art Nouveau movement. 

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Antoni Gaudi’s works as an architect were predominant in Barcelona. His style is mostly inspired by nature and Catholic faith, characterized by curved lines and vibrant surfaces. His notable works include the balconies of Casa Mila which resemble leaves and blades of grass and the benches in Parc Güell which was designed like a human spine. 

La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia

His career was spent mostly on the construction of La Sagrada Familia, which was only 20% complete at his death in 1926. Once finished, the church will be the tallest basilica in the world. 

Louis Comfort Tiffany

Son of the famous jeweler Charles Lewes Tiffany, Louis was exposed and trained in the arts. He initially learned painting but decided to explore stained glass art and eventually established his own glassmaking factory. 

He became one of the most notable Art Nouveau artists with his glasswork style called Favrile glass. This work displayed iridescent and freely shaped glass combined with bronzelike alloys. It was admired internationally, especially in Central Europe. 

Émile Gallé

Another glassmaker famous for his works under Art Nouveau is Emile Galle. He founded the École de Nancy, a group dedicated to expand the Art Nouveau movement whose inspiration is mostly based on plant forms, hogweed, waterlily, animals, and more. He also became the director of his father’s glass company and his own wood workshop and crystal firm. 

Glass vase by Emile Galle

He rose to fame after winning a “Grand Prix” at the 1889 universal exhibition in Paris. One of his most significant works is a vase-lamp called, “Celebration of Spring.” During his free time, Galle would collect and study plants and bugs for inspiration. 

Louis Majorelle

Louis Majorelle was a co-founder of the École de Nancy. His focus was on creating and reviving old pieces of furniture. With Galle as his mentor and guide, Majorelle began to incorporate natural themes and new shapes into his furniture. He maintained a modern workshop that incorporated machine and hand labor in wood, bronze, cabinetry, marquetry, and sculpture. 

The artist has opened salesrooms in Nancy, Paris, Lyon, and Lille. 

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

The French painter most recognized contribution is elevating advertising to the level of fine art. In his time, he sold beautiful paintings as posters of Parisian business owners. His most famous piece was the painting “At the Moulin Rouge” depicting the cabaret which opened in 1889. 

Most of his works use free-flowing, expressive lines, and pure arabesque. The artist also turned to the lithograph as a medium.  

Victor Horta

Expanding the movement from visual and decorative arts into architecture, Victor Hortas was considered one of the pioneers of Art Nouveau. His work mostly displayed his understanding of iron and glass, even featuring twisted and bent iron in the exterior of his buildings. 

The first Art Nouveau building created was the Hotel Tassel, a design made by the Belgian architect. The building combined themes of nature and industry, showcasing the iconic stair hall which can be viewed from the exterior of the building. 

Art Nouveau Painting sample

The Art Nouveau aesthetic are evident in different media including decorative art, architecture, and advertisements. Much of the work made by the artists above are sought after by modern collectors and followers.

The Most Popular Art Museums Around the World

Museums are important as they play a major role in preservation of cultural and historical artifacts. The exhibition of these artifacts to public provide opportunities for learning and understanding in a pressure-free environment. Art museums, specifically, offers glimpses at different cultures through artwork from all time periods. Museums are like the tangible internet; they offer an eye-opening, immersive global learning experience. 

Now, let’s take a look at the most popular art museums around the world. 

The State Hermitage Museum

            Located in St. Petersburg, Russia, the State Hermitage Museum is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. It has been opened to the public since 1852. It houses a permanent collection of more than 3 million objects which include decorative arts, antiquities, and a beautiful selection of paintings all over the world. 

Hermitage Museum

            The Hermitage Museum complex is popular for its architecture and interior design inspired by Greek revival, Neo-Classical, and Elizabethan Baroque styles. An average of 4.2 million people visits the museum in one year. 

The National Palace Museum

            If you’re interested to take a  look at the facets of the great ancient Chinese civilization, then the National Palace Museum in Taipei is the place to go. Over 700,000 imperial art and artifacts are kept there. However, only 1% of those objects including ceramics, carvings, calligraphy, and metalwork are displayed. 

            Nevertheless, it’s worthy to visit and see the most unique and precious collections of Chinese civilization. In fact, an average of 4.4 million visitors line up every year in this museum. 

The National Gallery

            Founded in 1824, the National Gallery in Westminster, Central London houses a wide collection of paintings dating from mid-13th century to 1900s. Some of the most popular paintings found in the museum are Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, and The Hay Wain by John Constable. 

National Gallery

            The museum, like others, offers free admission and actually welcomes 5.2 visitors per year.

The National Gallery of Art

            Located inside in the National Mall in Washington DC is the National Gallery of Art which boasts a wide collection of European and American paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, and decorative arts. The building is comprised of 3 spaces: the West Building, the East Building, and the Sculpture Garden.

The European masterworks from the Middle Ages through the 19thcentury are found in West Building. The East Building displays the museum’s modern collection. And the garden holds a beautiful selection of modern and contemporary sculpture. Around 5.2 people tour around the museum every year. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

            The most popular museum in New York City is the Metropolitan Museum of Art which is also called, “the MET.” Its permanent collection contains 2 million works such as paintings, sculptures, costumes, musical instruments, and a whole lot more. The MET actually has three locations: the main building on the eastern edge of Central Park; The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan; and the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue. 

 museum

            The MET originally opened to bring art and art education to the American people. Now, it welcomes an average of 6.7 million guests from different countries. 

The National Museum of China

            In 2003, two monumental institutions, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the National Museum of Chinese History merged and created China’s top palace of history and art. Though technically it’s only been 16 years, the National Museum of China is already on the list of the largest and most popular museums in the world. 

It houses more than one million rare and precious pieces, including a Han Dynasty jade burial suit, a Red lacquer box from the Qing Dynasty, and Eagle-shaped pottery of neolithic Yangshao culture. Every year, there are more than 8 million visitors who come to the museum.  

The Louvre

On top of the list is the biggest and most visited museum all over the world, The Musée du Louvre in Paris. It was originally built as a castle and fortress in the 12thcentury. Eventually, it became a palace or the main residence of the French kings. Then, in 1682, it was decided to primarily become a place to display the royal collection, including ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. 

the Louvre

Now, it displays a wide range of artworks and antiquities including Venus de Milo and Leonardo da Vinci’s Monalisa. The Louvre welcomes an average of 10.2 million visitors each year. 

With this number of visitors each museum receives every year, it’s safe to say that art is not dead. It continues to entertain, educate, and inspire millions of people who get to see them every year. 

Is Pop Art a Real Kind of Art?

In the mid-1950s in the US and UK, an art movement began which was inspired by consumerist culture. This includes looks and styles from comic books, Hollywood films, and advertising. Pop artists made use of popular culture to create the art now called, “Pop Art.” 

This movement was considered significant because it represented a shift in artists’ source material. Unlike in the past where artists mostly draw inspiration from nature and religion, pop art involves seeking ideas from the mundane aspects of everyday life. This movement wants to connect fine art to ordinary people. So, images that are shown in TV, movies, or even commercials were prevalent in pop artworks. 

In simple terms, this movement aims to relate to common people. It establishes the fact that art is not elitist. Art is everywhere, and it can be found even on our day-to-day things. 

What are the Characteristics of Pop Art?

Pop art image Donald Trump

Pop art is visually attractive. It uses bright and bold colors such as red, yellow, and blue. The most prominent technique used is Ben-day dots – a printing technique in which dots are used to render effects. Other techniques include color blocking and the use of black outlines. 

During this movement, silkscreen painting also became a popular choice. The overall paintwork became sharper and lines were more visible. The most common themes were food, household items, and even objects like toilets. Logos, brand names, and product names were also recurring objects. 

5 of the Most Famous Pop Artists 

Andy Warhol

American Artist Andy Warhol was a leading figure in this visual art movement. He explored relationship between artistic expression and celebrity culture and advertisement in 1960s. He once said, “The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when people in it do.” 

His most famous works are Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, and a painting of the Campbell’s Soup. The latter initially caused an offense to the philosophy of abstract expression which was then dominant in the United States.  

Roy Lichtenstein 

        Along with Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein was also known as one of the first American artists who adopted pop art. His works are famous for its humorous manner, favoring the comic strip as his main inspiration. He described this kind of art as an industrial painting rather than the usual American painting. 

            “Drowning Girl” was considered to be Lichtenstein’s cornerstone work. The printing method and the use of speech balloon highly suggest it’s inspired by a comic book page. This art has appealed to many as the heroine seems to be a victim of an unhappy relationship. 

Richard Hamilton 

Richard Hamilton was the British artist who founded the pop art movement. He introduced the idea that an artist is an active consumer. The prevailing view then was that art should be separate from commerce. It was Hamilton who treated Pop Art as a way of life, giving other artists permission to consider all visual sources, even those generated by the commercial sector. 

His most popular work and also among the earliest works of pop art is “Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” It was a collage consisting of images taken mainly from American magazines. 

Eduardo Luigi Paolozzi 

Eduardo Paolozzi was a Scottish sculptor and artist who was one of the pioneers of pop art. Although his work was mostly sculpture, he was also a printmaker whose collage-based silkscreened images were considered as a significant characteristic of pop art.

In fact, his produced rudimentary collages from American magazines which were inspired by Dada photomontage, are now regarded as early examples of pop art. For the rest of his career, the “collage style was evident in his methods, both as a sculptor and printmaker.

David Hockney 

Another prominent figure of the Pop Art movement is British artist, David Hockney. In his works, he focuses on personal subject matters: scenes from his own life and of his friends. Some of his paintings also explore homosexuality as Hockney was openly gay. 

His most iconic work is his 1967 painting, “A Bigger Splash.”  It was based on a photo he saw in a book while the background was taken from one of his drawings. 

pop art bubble thought

In general, pop art has made a huge impact on artists, even to this day. While it challenges the imagery of traditional art, it has paved the way for a different kind of art. Since then, it was widely interpreted to bridge the gap between “high” art and “low” culture. It also presented opportunities for others to explore creativity in different mediums such as advertising, print design, and even digital design. Is it really an art? You decide!