Who changed the world during the Renaissance?
Humanism - The Renaissance image of man
Get out of the valley of tears
Renaissance people are self-confident, they see themselves as artists, as creators, as masters of the arts. He is interested in technical innovations, in the art of war, the history, works and aesthetics of the much-vaunted antiquity.
Pictures, statues, reliefs and architecture should take into account a new ideal of beauty and a life-affirming image of man, a feast for the senses, a frenzy of gold and purple.
The artist of the Renaissance observed, analyzed and carried out detailed studies. Corpses are dissected, the anatomy is established. The central perspective becomes a groundbreaking invention, influenced by the new realism of the north, pictures and sculptures become lifelike images.
The man of the Renaissance expands his field of vision, suddenly the earthly, the conditions of human existence on earth, move into the center of general interest.
Christian faith and the hope for the hereafter are definitely present, but no longer replace the preoccupation with the present and the ephemeral, earthly phenomena. Humanism is the name of the new mindset that discovers people for themselves and places them at the center of art, culture and science.
Humanism means people
The word humanism is derived from the Latin term "humanitas", humanity. Humanism deals with the essence of man and traces his existence and his meaning. Humanism becomes a worldview that is oriented towards the interests, values and dignity of each individual.
Traditional forces such as religion or rule are questioned and not accepted uncritically. The modern person with his gifts and creative abilities is emphasized.
The humanists take into account the fact that humans are capable of their own accord to understand themselves and their world, to question them critically and to develop them further.
Petrarch and the Dark Ages
The forefather of the humanists is the poet Petrarca, who, along with Dante and Boccaccio, belongs to the "three crowns" of the Trecento, the 14th century.
Petrarch senses the impending epochal upheaval, he simply declares the period from antiquity to his present as a period of "tenebrae", the impenetrable darkness. And Petraca shows contemporaries the way out of this darkness: it is a return to the age of antiquity.
With Petrarch, the man of the Renaissance devalues the past centuries as the "dark Middle Ages", he creates an artificial insertion between antiquity and the Renaissance - the Middle Ages, a non-time that he declares to be backward. The renaissance, on the other hand, is supposed to make an epoch and to connect with epochs of antiquity.
Back to the sources
In 1511 the scholar Erasmus von Rotterdam, who was already famous during his lifetime, formulated programmatically: Ad fontes - back to the sources! With his studies of the Greek and Roman classics, he paved the way for a new scholarship. This return to the sources and achievements of antiquity soon turns out to be the engine of the Renaissance.
When the former Byzantium, the city of Constantinople, was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, many scholars and intellectuals fled to Italy. In their luggage they have long-believed lost texts and transcripts of the great thinkers and orators of antiquity.
On the basis of these texts, the humanists systematically develop a new image of man, replacing the thoughtless adoption of traditional worldviews with critical scrutiny by the mind. Renaissance art, architecture and handicrafts benefit from the ideas of the humanists.
The epoch of rebirth
The artists convey the scholars' new image of man in their works and shaped their own style and aesthetics of the Renaissance into the 16th century.
The creators and scholars, the heroes of the Renaissance who were celebrated during their lifetime, were well aware that they were part of a special movement of renewal and awakening.
They celebrated the ideas and highlights of antiquity, an old, long-lost world, and translated them into their time in order to make them fruitful for the present, the modern.
To some contemporaries this promising departure seemed like waking up from a dream or the birth of a new person.
"Rinascita" - "rebirth" was the name given by the Florentine art critic Giorgio Vasari to this unique cultural heyday a little later, in the 16th century. His label should be valid to this day. "Renaissance" - "rebirth" is what we call that almost 200-year-old epoch of the 15th and 16th centuries, a time of profound cultural change.
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