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Lesson Plans

Re: Medici- not the support I'd want!

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Fri, 12 Feb 1999 22:16:43 EST

Well, "enslaved" may not be exactly the right word, but our modern concept of
the artist as a free and expressive spirit, driven only by her or his "vision"
would have seemed quite odd to the Renaissance artist and his society.

The mere fact that there is, as far as I am aware, no need to say "her or his"
art when discussing the Renaissance artist.

I had an art history professor who jokingly compared the Medici family to the
Corlione (sp? The Godfather) family. It's not like everybody was their slaves
or anything. Rather, they paid, for a lot of this art and the Renaissance
artist was a craftsman, who was hired to paint what the patron asked him to

The artist simply occupied a different role in Renaissance society. Perhaps
the extroadinary artists, like Michelangelo, felt restricted by the demands of
his patrons, but, by and large, self-expression for the artist was a non-
issue. Artists simply had never made art for that purpose. Actually, the
smae is true for musicians, poets, pretty much any individual whose trade was
what we now call the creative arts.

Even Rembrandt, a century later, achieved great fortune as a commissioned
painter of group portraits. He also lost a lot of patrons when tastes in art
changed and almost ended up in debtor's prison.

If you really want to get a feel for what it was like to be an artist during
the Renaissance, check out The Renaissance Artist at Work, by Bruce Cole (the
art histroy prof who compared the Medici to the mafia, jokingly). I think
it's still in print.