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BYZANTINE PAINTING

  Byzantine art is spiritual and stirring. Artists were resticted to Biblical themes and despictions of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. Distinguished art critic and historian, John C. Van Dyke points out, "Constantinople was rebuilt and rechristened by Constantine, a Christian emperor, in the year 328 A.D. It became a stronghold of Christian traditions, manners, customs, art. But it was not quite the same civilization as that of Rome and the West. It was bordered on the south and east by oriental influences, and much of Eastern thought, method, and glamour found its way into the Christian community. The artists fought this influence, stickling a long time for the severer classicism of ancient Greece. For when Rome fell the traditions of the Old World centred around Constantinople. But classic form was ever being encroached upon by oriental richness of material and color. The struggle was a long but hopeless one. As in Italy, form failed century by century. When, in the eighth century, the Iconoclastic controversy cut away the little Greek existing in it, the oriental ornament was about all that remained."


The serene religious figures appear highly styles, unnatural and a bit abstract. the church and monarchy dictated that artists stay within a strictly confined style.  John C. Van Dyke concludes "There was no chance for painting to rise under the prevailing conditions. Free artistic creation was denied the artist. An advocate of painting at the Second Nicene Council declared that: "It is not the invention of the painter that creates the picture, but an inviolable law of the Catholic Church. It is not the painter but the holy fathers who have to invent and dictate. To them manifestly belongs the composition, to the painter only the execution." Painting was in a strait-jacket. It had to follow precedent and copy what had gone before in old Byzantine patterns. Both in Italy and in Byzantium the creative artist had passed away in favor of the skilled artisan—the repeater of time-honored forms or colors. The workmanship was good for the time, and the coloring and ornamental borders made a rich setting, but the real life of art had gone. A long period of heavy, morose, almost formless art, eloquent of mediŠval darkness and ignorance, followed."

BYZANTINE MOSAICS AND FRESCOES

Byzantine mosaics are acclaimed for their dazzling beauty. Many look as if they were created yesterday when in fact thy are over one thousand years old. According to Byzantine art historian Alexander Van Millingen"The mosaics in the Chora represent a remarkable revival in the history of Byzantine art. They are characterized by a comparative freedom from tradition, by closer approximation to reality and nature, by a charm and a sympathetic quality, and by a scheme of color that indicate the coming of a new age and spirit. Curiously enough, they are contemporary with the frescoes of Giotto at Padua (1303-1306). But whatever points of similarity may be detected between them and the work of the Italian artist, or between them and the Italian school before Giotto, should be explained as due to a common stock of traditions and to the simultaneous awakening of a new intellectual and artistic life in the East and the West, rather than to any direct influence of one school of art upon another. The mosaics of the Chora are thoroughly Byzantine."




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Top 10 Best Quotes About Art

A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.
 Leonardo da Vinci

I dream my painting and I paint my dream.   Vincent Van Gogh

I shut my eyes in order to see.  Paul Gauguin

The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.  
Leonardo da Vinci

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.   Edgar Degas

Absinthe is the only decent drink that suits an artist.  
Paul Gauguin

Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment. Claude Monet

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.  
Leonardo da Vinci

Art is either revolution or plagiarism.  
Paul Gauguin

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.  Michelangelo
 

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