Although some of us may enjoy certain arts such as painting, sculpting, or photography, it is not given the respect that it once was during time periods such as during Medieval and Renaissance Italy.
During these historical periods, art was a symbol of power and status. Only the middle and upper classes held positions that enabled them to commission and/or own works of art. Most of the art created during the medieval time period was purely religious oriented, and was therefore displayed particularly in churches, where the majority of people attended regularly. During the Renaissance, art began to transform into a more secular focus, with an emphasis on the idea of “the here and now” rather than the focus on religion. However, art remained a luxury of the middle and upper classes. Works of art could be interpreted different ways based on your educational background, but the thought was that in order to fully appreciate art, the viewer must be educated. The same idea applied to the artist as well. Artists were required to be well educated in many different subject areas such as theology and mythology. Overall, artists were regarded and intelligent, well-respected individuals. The works they created told stories and often had multiple story lines intertwined in them.
Today, artists are not as prevalent in society. Because art is not in my realm of study directly, I am not knowledgeable whatsoever in the area of contemporary art. Although I enjoy art and am interested in furthering my understanding of art, I simply do not have enough time to devote to this area. Society’s focus has shifted away from it’s emphasis on art for education’s sake and more toward art as form of marketing, or entertainment. Art is seen in museums, on billboards, and in advertisements all over the place. In this light, artists are not appreciated as they once were for their talents and innovative art forms.
It will be interesting as we travel to Italy to view these works we have discussed and think about the ways in which they impacted society then as compared to how art impacts society today.