Art Critique

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As time progresses, art progresses and as time goes on, the addition of years to the expansion of time introduces new experiences, new minds, new artistic venues and styles to the human populace. Likewise, no matter the decade or the era, there will always be someone willing to critique art comprehensibly and as a result, there will always be people in this world, such as Heinrich Wölfflin, who truly understand the arts and demonstrate this with their theories. Heinrich Wölfflin was an educated, Swiss art critic and historian who developed a set of criteria to distinguish between Renaissance and Baroque art through the use of five pairs of concepts: linear and painterly, planar and recessional, open and closed form, multiplicity and unity, and clearness and unclearness (Liukkonen).

To begin, ‘linear’ refers to the development of line as a path of vision and a guide for the viewer’s eyes and ‘painterly’ refers to the gradual depreciation of lines or the grouping of values while losing the edges of objects, but still maintaining the overall forms in a painting. In linear works of art, paint is held within boundaries, and in painterly works of art, movement is stressed on the canvas by losing boundaries through deemphasized edges. Next, ‘plane’ and ‘recession’ are easier to recognize compared to the concepts of linear and painterly; ‘plane’ or ‘planar’ refers to the parallel surface exposed in a painting, verses ‘recession,’ in which works of art contain a defined, diagonal depth. Then, composition defines whether a painting has an open or closed form. ‘Open form’ in a painting suggests that the scene being depicted extends past the edges of the work of art; to the contrast, ‘closed form’ suggests that the scene being depicted doe...

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... Caravaggio’s Baroque oil painting on canvas, Judith Beheading Holofernes, is distinguishable through the characteristics of appearing painterly, recessional, having an open arrangement, containing variety and appearing vibrant and clear. Specifically, Caravaggio’s painting has a smooth blend from highlights to shadows and the forms lack outlines contributing to the painterly characteristic. Also, the manipulation of multiple diagonals, such as the placement of Holofernes, Judith and her companion, the characters appear to recede into the painting. Moreover, the diagonals create movement within the painting and the movement eventually directs the viewers to the far right of the painting, indicating an open form. Lastly, variety and clearness in Caravaggio’s work of art is indicated with the use of a single, intense light source and deliberately contrasting shadows.
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