Passage to Modernity

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The transition to one epoch to another is a controversial and blurry terrain. At the early stages of modernism, medieval ideas still lingered while new conceptions of nature, form, human, and divinity arose. There are as many similarities as there are differences between these two ages.


To them, form was an ideal to be achieved. This concern, combined with the growing interest in nature, awakened curiosity and sensitivity towards cosmic harmony.
For the poets and artists of the early modern age, aesthetic form perfection had an ontological significance. According to Dupre, the importance of rhetoric at this period of time can be explained by the belief that, if form has a spiritual quality, language -as the most spiritual expression of the mind- is the ideal medium to obtain perfection on form. "Form became an ideal partly realized through divine creation and partly to be realized by the human word".
For the painters, a new pursuit of individual form commenced. The shift from the medieval universalistic approach, to the modern focus on the particular, is specially observable in the portraits. Flemish painters like Van Eyck, Van de Weyden or Memline for example, were truly interested in the individual features, inner emotions and the aesthetics of the human face.
A new spatial conception was introduced in the Renaissance aesthetics as well. The artists had to find a balance between their subject and their environment, which assumed an "independent, homogeneous quality". With this, "figures become weightier and acquire a tactile quality". (p.47)
The concern for depicting nature in the most realistic and detailed manner was one of the fundamental characteristics of the new aesthetics. ...
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