Baroque – (Portuguese. Baroco – freaky, bad, wrong, spoiled). The term “baroque” has many meanings in the history of art. Among them are narrower, to indicate artistic styles in the art of various countries of the XVII-XVIII centuries, or broader – to identify ever-renewing trends of a restless, romantic attitude, thinking in expressive, dynamic forms, or generally as a poetic metaphor: “Baroque man” , “Baroque era”, “Baroque world”, “Baroque life”. Finally, in every time, almost in every historical art style, they find their “Baroque period”.
In the most famous sense, Baroque is a historical art style, which was spread initially in Italy in the middle of the XVI-XVII centuries, and then partially in France, as well as in Spain, Flanders and Germany of the XVII-XVIII centuries. The Baroque Style is remarkable in that for the first time in the history of world art, seemingly unconnectable components were combined in it: Classicism and Romanticism. Until the turn of the 16th-17th centuries, Classicism and Romanticism existed as two independent, in all opposing artistic directions, two trends of artistic thinking.
The jargon word “baroque” was used by Portuguese sailors to refer to defective pearls of irregular shape, but already in the middle of the XVI century. it appeared in colloquial Italian as a synonym for everything rude, awkward, false. In the professional environment of French art workshops baroquer – meant to soften, dissolve the contour, make the form softer, more picturesque. As an aesthetic assessment, this word began to be used in the XVIII century.
The formation of the historical Baroque style is associated with a crisis of ideals of the Italian Renaissance in the middle of the XVI century. and rapidly changing “picture of the world” at the turn of the XVI-XVII centuries. At the same time, the previous century was artistically so strong that it could not “disappear completely” or end abruptly at any particular stage. And this contradiction is the essence of all the conflicts of the Baroque art style.
Baroque architecture is the syncopated rhythms of mass collisions, the confrontation of an inert volume and a dynamic sense of space, the materiality of the wall and the illusory depth, the striding vertical strips of columns of horizontally uncovered horizontal lines of cornices. And another expressive tool of Baroque: the implausibility of scale, inhuman measurements of excessively enlarged details.
The most radical course of Roman Baroque is called – “Jesuit style.” His main work is the church of Il Gesu in Rome by the architect Giacomo della Porta (1575). The Jesuit style is associated with the counter-reformation movement and the idea of absolutism of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Jesuit Baroque is mystical, irrational in spirit and illusory-naturalistic in form. It gained distribution not only in Italy and Spain, where its influence was especially strong, but also in Eastern Europe. Catholic Baroque began to spread rapidly in Poland, Western Ukraine, the Baltic states and Belarus. The Jesuits built churches and colleges (Jesuit schools) on the model of the Roman, sometimes directly according to the drawings sent from Rome. Their influence on local artists was also great. Catherine II authorized the activities of the Jesuit Order in St. Petersburg, and, despite its official abolition in 1773, the Jesuits continued to operate until 1815-1820. they were not finally expelled from Russia.
The Renaissance, so rapidly held in Italy, less affected the deeper layers of medieval culture in northern Europe. It was replaced by the era of religious reformation. All questions of faith were declared non-negotiable, and transferred to the field of subjective emotional experience. This movement led the Order of the Jesuits. That is why the “pathos of decoration” and the mysticism of the Italian Catholic Baroque so easily and organically penetrated German soil at the end of the 16th century, where they merged with the mysticism of late Gothic. As a result, “Baroque Gothic”, or “Gothic Baroque” was born. Both styles were united by irrationality, mysticism, destructiveness and a picturesque, expressive sense of form. The ideas of Baroque penetrated into painting, primarily related to architecture. Ceiling paintings are a favorite form of Baroque art. Their main task is to create a mystical sense of space in which the usual ideas of the real extent, the specifics of volume, color, light and plane are lost. In baroque interiors, the plafond from the final element turns into a kind of illusory space going up.
The second after beauty in Baroque aesthetics is the category of grace (lat. Gratia – charm, grace) or cortesia (ital. Cortesia – politeness, tenderness, warmth), which corresponds to the fine qualities of movement, plasticity, variability. Another most important category – “decorum” – is the selection of relevant topics and plots.