Baroque aesthetics

Changes in the perception of the world, the consciousness of the collapse of the former foundations of life, the lack of harmony, confusion in concepts gave rise to new aesthetic principles of baroque art – a new artistic style that saw and reflected the world in a new way.

Slang word bagosso (bizarre, strange, pretentious), which Portuguese sailors used to denote defective pearls of irregular shape, in the middle of the 16th century. appeared in colloquial Italian, where it became synonymous with everything rude, false and awkward. Perhaps this excessive pretentiousness of works of art made in this style was one of the reasons for the disagreement between experts in the assessment of the Baroque.

Some saw him as a “style direction” in European art of the late 16th – mid-18th centuries. The latter declared the art of the baroque “perversity”, “ignorance of the rules”, a manifestation of “bad taste”, contrary to the harmonious and life-affirming art of the Renaissance. Still others, on the contrary, noted the grandeur, plasticity, striving for beauty and perceived it as a logical continuation of the traditions of the Renaissance. Some researchers drew a parallel between ancient Hellenism and baroque, others saw its connection with medieval art, which tended to express intense, almost ecstatic religious feelings. But no matter how different the assessments of scientists, one thing is certain: the baroque is a large independent style in art, a significant stage in the development of world artistic culture.

At the same time, there were also common, not controversial views on the aesthetics of the Baroque. They dealt with the main tasks of art, understanding the role and place of man in the world around him. The main goal of the baroque is the desire to surprise, to cause amazement. Here is how the English poet A. Pope (1688-1744) wrote about it:

Only where beauty is half-hidden,
Art is attained fullness.
The goal of the master is to play with contrasts,
Hide boundaries, surprise eyes.

/ Translated by S. Antonov /

Man and all the diversity of reality become the subject of creative comprehension in art. In Baroque works, a person appears as a person with a complex world of feelings and experiences, involved in a stormy whirlpool of events and passions. An acute thirst for life and pleasure is combined in him with an almost physical fear of death and an instinct for self-preservation. A person rushes between hope and despair, at every step he is trapped by chance and vicissitudes of fate, his heroic deeds are on the verge of tragedy and horror. He constantly faces a moral choice, more and more often he comes to understand the futility of human existence, the frailty of human life. This is remarkably accurately expressed by one of the heroes of W. Shakespeare:

What is life? A fleeting shadow, a buffoon,
Furiously rustling on the stage
And an hour later forgotten by everyone; fairy tale
In the mouth of a fool, rich in words
And the ringing of phrases, but poor in meaning.

/ Translated by T. Schepkina-Kupernik /

A person obsessed with the desire to identify and understand the main laws of the development of life could no longer be satisfied with just a statement of its complexity and inconsistency. That is why the baroque works, on the one hand, convey the tension of conflicts, overcoming the spirit of contradictions, duality and anxiety, and on the other, the desire to revive harmony in life. The main themes of baroque art are the torment and suffering of man, mystical allegories, the relationship between good and evil, life and death, love and hate, thirst for pleasure and retribution for them, where reality is combined with bizarre fantasy. The works of Baroque are characterized by a synthesis of architecture, painting and sculpture, emotional intensity of passions, dynamism and “uneasiness of silhouettes”, spectacular spectacle, exaggerated splendor of forms, contrasts of scale, color, light and shadow,the abundance and heap of bizarre details, the use of unexpected metaphors.

Despite the clearly expressed principles, the baroque, as an art, did not lose ties with the aesthetics of the Renaissance and continued the Renaissance traditions.

Chronologically, the Baroque style took shape almost simultaneously with classicism, often entering into a struggle with it. In relation to art, the term “baroque” was first used in the middle of the 18th century, when it became necessary to criticize the fanciful style of 17th century architectural structures.

In Russia, certain features of the Baroque appeared in the second half of the 17th century, and its heyday falls on the middle of the 18th century. To a greater extent, the influence of the Baroque was experienced by Russian literature of the 17th century. (for example, the poetry of Simeon of Polotsk (1629-1680), in a much smaller – architecture and painting.

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