Social, political, or economic conditions can alter the nature and meaning of art. I agree with this statement because the conditions are reflected in the artwork of the specific time periods. The artwork is affected by these conditions for many reasons, some of them it is based on the tastes of the culture, or the power of the church or monarchy, or other times it is based on the mood of society. Two eras that can be compared with each other is the Baroque style and the Rococo style.
The Baroque style, such as Annibale Caracci’s “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness”, is an example of Baroque art because of its strong religious overtones to it. An example of Rococo art is Jean-Honore Fragon’s work “The Swing” because it reflects the leisure of the aristocracy. Both of these paintings represent the conditions of the time period they were made in.
The Baroque style is characterized by the reinvigorated spirit of the church (Web Museum). The social conditions during the Baroque period was a desire to evoke emotional states through religious symbolism, as seen in “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness”, where St. Jerome is having a spiritual experience. The political climate of the Baroque era saw a rise in power for the church, and so this influenced many artists of the Baroque period. This is why many Baroque works of art involve religious themes. The economic conditions of the Baroque period involved a rising merchant class in Italy, the origin of Baroque art. Due to these economic conditions, the artists started out in Italy and eventually moved to other places in Europe when their work gained in popularity. In this way, the movement spread out based on the economy of an increasing merchant class.
The Rococo movement, on the other hand, involved different conditions, and so the paintings reflect a different mood than the Baroque. In the Rococo paintings, the paintings depicted the leisure of the aristocracy (Artlex). The aristocracy was more interested in love and romance than religious themes, and because of this the works of art reflected this mood in the works, for example, the carefree nature expressed in the painting “The Swing.” In the painting, a well-dressed young lady is on a swing, symbolizing both nobility in terms of the clothes she is wearing, as well as the swing symbolizing a carefree gesture, almost as if it represents freedom. The political conditions during the Rococo time period involved wealthy aristocracy, and so their playful nature is in stark contrast to the rigid morality of the church and the Baroque era.
For these reasons, the social, political, and economic conditions can alter the nature and meaning of art. The Baroque paintings, such as “Saint Jerome in the Wilderness”, reflects the religious themes that dominated the time period through the influence of the church. On the other hand, the Rococo movement involved a time period that saw a rise in Aristocracy and leisure, and so the artwork reflects a carefree nature, such as that found in “The Swing.” This is how social, political, and economic conditions can alter the nature and meaning of art.
Artlex. “Rococo.” Retrieved April 14, 2010: http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/r/rococo.html
WebMuseum. “Baroque.” Retrieved April 14, 2010: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/glo/baroque/
Edited by Julian Malizia on 4/14/2010 at 4:37 PM EST