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how can you look at a painting or sculpture and know that it was made during the period that we call the Baroque how do you recognize the Baroque style let's start by looking at this very important sculpture by Bernini of the biblical story of David who defeats the giant Goliath I'm standing in front of the sculpture and I want to dock this man is about to launch a rock he's giving this every ounce of energy he's got look at his eyebrows the way they're knit together look at the way that he's biting his lips the artist is observing the human body understands all of the naturalistic lessons that had been gained during the Renaissance but is putting them towards of intense emotionalism this is a position of the body that could only be like this for a split second the body itself has broken with the stability that had been so characteristic of the Renaissance Bernie knees body is wound up and is about to release its energy he's like a spring that's taught and you're right his body could never hold this position for more than a moment we see a diagonal and it's not just straight diagonals these are interrelated arcing diagonals and so there is this tremendous energy that's not only the result of the representation of his body but it's the very forms and lines that the artist is creating in stone and that's part of the way that the figure involves us it moves into our space with Michelangelo's David we maintain acolyte distance it's ideal beauty is there for us to contemplate but Baroque art does something different instead of appealing to our minds appeals to our bodies it appeals to our emotions Michelangelo's David looks like a God Michelangelo is largely unwilling to sacrifice the pure linear qualities of his figure notice the way in which the line of his body is almost unobstructed whereas Bernini is absolutely willing to cross his body with his arms with all of those diagonals that energize but also move away from that notion of the ideal is another important expect that the complexity of bernini's composition enables and that is a greater set of contrasts between light and dark Michelangelo's David because he is so planar the marble is all available to the light and so you don't get deep shadow with Bernini because the form is crossing itself you get these contrasts between highlights and shadows that further activate the sculpture so how do we see this in painting one of the great examples is to look at the Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio this is an amazing painting and incredibly powerful very much like Bernie knees David we are confronted with something very close to us here is say Peter who asked to be crucified upside down because he said he wasn't worthy to die the way that Christ had died so here we see Peter nailed to the cross the bottom of the cross almost feels like it's so close that we could touch it so the same way that Bernie knees David moved into our space Caravaggio is using foreshortening but it also creates an incredible sense of instability look at the way that that cross is just being raised up and we're not sure the massiveness of Peter and of the lumber is too heavy whether or not he may fall with the giant thud that everything feels contingent and in motion and here we have the diagonal of the cross but also another diagonal formed by the back of the figure who's helping to raise the cross and the figure underneath who's raising it with his back and so we have Criss crossing diagonals which is also a very common feature of Baroque art it's interesting to compare this to the Bernini sculpture because Bernini was working in the round here the artist is creating an illusion of form of mass and one of the ways he's able to do that is to create the sharp contrast between light and shadow which just like the Bernini sculpture is creating a sense of vividness and energy so we've got this dark background and these brilliantly highlighted figures creating the sense of veracity that we could reach out and touch them the whole thing about Renaissance painting was there was an illusion of space there was architecture there was landscape behind the figures but here Caravaggio gives us darkness that everything is pushed to the foreground so it's emotional it's intimate it feels real it feels of immediate and it gets to us in our bodies look at how close Peters feet are and we can see the nails that have been driven through his feet we can see the nails in his hand there's an interest in making us emotionally involved even in the violence here I'm interested in the way that the center of gravity has been shifted and is being raised up so that there is this instability way to drive this point home is just to compare this to a painting by Raphael from the high Renaissance where we have an emphasis on stability and balance the figures in this painting by Raphael are in the shape of a pyramid which is the most stable of forms there's a clear light on the figures they're situated within this three-dimensional space we can move from foreground to middle ground to deep background and Raphael is enjoying the opportunity to give us as much information as he can not only about the three figures in the foreground but about the natural world beyond them whereas Caravaggio is being much more careful about what we're going to focus on look at that beautiful face of the madonna she's not a particular person she is the Divine Mother of God but Peter is an actual individual that we're seeing this is a particular man at a particular point in his life and there's dirt and clothes that are disheveled and this is much more of the real world than we ever see in the high Renaissance so all of the art that we've looked at has been Italian can we see these same characteristics in art that's being produced north of the Alps we can certainly see it in the art of Rubens if we looked at Rubens raising of the cross we would see a diagonal we would see dramatic contrasts of light and dark what if we were looking at artists who lived in a Protestant context a lot of the characteristics we've been describing these are characteristics that we associate with Catholic Baroque art that sought to energize believers and Holland we're looking at paintings that are very different than the altar pieces from Catholic Europe and that's because we're in a Protestant country where artists are no longer commissioned to paint altar pieces for the church so let's take something that seems like the opposite of the Baroque art we've been talking about that's take Vermeer's woman with a water picture instead of seeing a biblical scene we're seeing a common domestic scene a wealthy woman in her home in the north of Europe so what makes this baroque everything in this painting is quiet the light has a subtlety to it that is very different from the drama and violence of the light that we saw in Caravaggio instead the artist seems to be in love with the very subtle modulation of light the very subtle gradations of tone look especially at the way that the light filters through her headdress or under her right arm as she opens that window we see a woman surrounded by rectilinear forms the rectangle of the window of the map on the upper right the rectangle of the table to the lower right she inhabits that space between but she's moving and resisting the stability and geometry that is set up by the environment around her she's picking up or putting down the picture opening the window this caught moment in between and even the light has a sense of being in between of the light coming in from the outside of the light in the interior and that interest in light is key to Baroque art whether it's Caravaggio's drama or the subtlety of light in Vermeer this is a painting that is about subtle transition and whether or not it's the subtle transition of the light or the subtle transition of her attention from the base and in Picher to the window we are close to her we feel as though we could reach out and feel that rug that covers the table so that closeness that we saw in Caravaggio and Bernini is still here let's move through all these different types of paintings how do we recognize the Baroque in 17th century Dutch landscape here is Royce Dale's beautiful painting of the bleaching grounds but notice it's not an ideal landscape this is the landscape of Royce Dale's hometown of Harlem we call this a landscape but this is really about those clouds and look at those huge voluminous forms that are moving across that sky I can see them forming and unformed before my very eyes and this is still about Ray and look at the way that those clouds cast shadows that greet these alternating fields across the land below so Baroque art is about time it's about effects of light whether that's dramatic or more subtle it's about involving the viewer of moving into our space of breaking down the barrier between us in the work of art it's about the use of the diagonal of a sense of energy and drama sometimes subtle drama but still drama and for me it's always about a sense of direct relationship with the subject