Rabelais and the Evolution of Art

            As is true of most of the time periods that we have studied, what fascinates me most is the evolution of each of the different types of art. The development and spread of the Renaissance throughout Europe influenced millions of people at the time and continues to influence us today. While I typically picture paintings when I think of the Renaissance, I found it interesting that many of the artworks that come from this time period were not paintings but rather decorative items such as tapestries and pottery. Commissioned by princes and royalty around the world, these elaborate pieces originated in Italy but soon began to take on their own individual qualities and characteristics of their unique homelands. In many ways, this commissioning of works reminded me of the artisan crafts that were found in Lattes. As we enter a time where travel is easier and globalization begins to take hold – art evolves more quickly and a greater knowledge of other cultures is possible. However, as we saw in Lattes, globalization also allows us to have art as entertainment – or art as a luxury. On some level, that is what we are seeing during the Renaissance. There is a sense of art being mass produced; however it still seems completely genuine because there is such excitement over entering a new age of learning.

            Not only was visual art effected by this movement but the development of the printing press also had a huge impact on the people of the time as well as the types of mass produced literature. Rabelais took advantage of the large selection of books available to the general population and often wrote about the dawn of a new age. As a Renaissance Humanist he was able to express his ideas through the written word and the common people were able to take part in the excitement of this new age. The development of the printing press and the spread of literature is a huge part of the Renaissance that changed the way people viewed art forever. Stained glass windows were no longer necessities in churches because people could read the stories for themselves, but their purpose of glorifying God still remained. The same is true of biblical art – while not necessarily used for education, they still told a story and still depicted beauty which was to be valued.

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