The propaganda aspects of a lot of renaissance art has been lost to the more casual peruser of paintings and sculpture. The shorthand of what they were doing has now become that Michelangelo, da Vinci et al were presenting the physical ideal. The ideal being equated to something to strive for regardless of its impossibility.
Part of the magic of painting which started with the immediate precursors to impressionism (Courbet, Fantin Latour, Millet) was that they were begging to slowly move away from the subjects when not a still life or landscape being restricted to those of myth, biblical or historic. The heroic, idealized.
When the Nazi occupation of France became inevitable there was a scramble to get the high profile residents, thinkers, politicos and artists to safety. Matisse was on this list. At the last minute he backed out of fleeing, saying:
“If everyone who has any value leaves France, what remains of France?”
After the fact asked to expand upon what he meant in greater detail he cited culture not personality as what he had been getting at. If the abstracts which gives us pleasure, define us and add to us are gone then what is the point?
Unfortunately in current times art and culture by default often is associated with an elitism. Art has a duty, not in the sense of promoting a message or agenda though. Now is the time for any who can, to create something of beauty. And if you can’t, it is of equal importance to appreciate and enjoy it. The purpose art and beauty can serve now has changed since the renaissance. None of it should be tied in with any sort of “ideal”. It represents something not necessarily perfect, an impossibility to be striven for but rather something outside of ourselves, the “I” becoming part of a greater whole.
This should bolster the thought that no matter how bad things get, we all have to live with ourselves when it’s over and back to normal. Paraphrasing Matisse’s train of thought, to lose what we value about ourselves as a society just to stay around, well what would be the point?
“Fa-Flex” Watercolor & French Cotton Paper 7×10