03. Early Europe & Colonial Americas, 04. Later Europe & Americas, Art & Humanities, Travel

Medieval, Renaissance, & Modern Art from a “Dummy”

Medieval, Renaissance, & Modern Art from a “Dummy”

So my parents went to Italy this summer (see their itinerary HERE) and my dad got inspired to do his own blog musings. His disclaimer is that he doesn’t know anything about art history so his posts are “from a Dummy” but, as an art historian, I am fact checking him as we go along. So below is his first post on his reflections on art he saw while in Italy. Enjoy! 🙂


Throughout my trip to Italy I kept hearing “medieval” and “renaissance” over and over again. From what I was able to understand, coming from a “dummy”, medieval is like a stop sign: tell people something very direct, with little emotion, frontal and otherworldly. While on the other hand, Renaissance art is full of human emotion, a specific time and place, with things we would consider it much more realistic. See the images below. Based on my description, can you tell which are medieval and which are Renaissance?

Sistine Chapel ceiling the floodVenus and Cupid, Lorenzo Lotto, c. 1480-1556NGA-Juan de Flandes, Adoration of the Magi, 1508-1519-detail828px-Encaustic_VirginNGA-Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Immaculate Conception, 1775christinedepizan2012_illustrationpage11fulltiziano_-_amor_sacro_y_amor_profano_galerc3ada_borghese_roma_1514IMG_1024friedrich_pacher_-_st_anthony_of_padua_and_st_francis_of_assisi_-_wga16806last-judgment

My actual art historian commentary: Renaissance emphasis on humanism, meaning that they wanted to put Biblical and religious characters within a specific time and place, using their own time period. To achieve that, they would add details (such as landscape and clothing) to pluck Jesus our of historical correctness and into 15th century Florence.

Read more: Museum Madness: Making the Most of your Museum Visit

I didn’t see any modern art while in Italy but this still seems a good time as any to mention it. Modern art can be said to have started at the advent of photography. Painters at that time were competing against photographs for a realistic portrayal of life so therefore painters had to choose to display the world around them differently. To me, an idiot, modern art is displaying the world on an acid trip, altering reality slightly (or greatly, depending on the dose).


One of my favorite painters, the only one I can name actually, is Picasso. When I heard that he would paint things as if you were looking at all sides at the same time it blew my mind. That was awesome. Think about it! Try to picture that in your head first AND THEN try put it together in a painting in a way that makes sense to other people. So it may seem ugly to you, but it is pure genius.


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