Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for a classical period, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint and compression we are simply objecting to the classicism of classic art. A violent emphasis or a sudden acceleration of rhythmic movement would have destroyed those qualities of balance and completeness through which it retained until the present century its position of authority in the restricted repertoire of visual images."[1] Classicism, as Clark noted, implies a canon of widely accepted ideal forms, whether in the Western canon that he was examining in The Nude (1956), or the literary Chinese classics or Chinese art, where the revival of classic styles is also a recurring feature.

Classicism is a force which is often present in post-medieval European and European influenced traditions; however, some periods felt themselves more connected to the classical ideals than others, particularly the Age of Enlightenment,[2] when Neoclassicism was an important movement in the visual arts.

General term

Rome Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi 01
Fountain of the Four Rivers, Bernini, 1651.
Classicism door in Olomouc
Classicist door in Olomouc, The Czech Republic.

Classicism is a specific genre of philosophy, expressing itself in literature, architecture, art, and music, which has Ancient Greek and Roman sources and an emphasis on society. It was particularly expressed in the Neoclassicism[3] of the Age of Enlightenment.

Classicism is a recurrent tendency in the Late Antique period, and had a major revival in Carolingian and Ottonian art. There was another, more durable revival in the Italian renaissance when the fall of Byzantium and rising trade with the Islamic cultures brought a flood of knowledge about, and from, the antiquity of Europe. Until that time, the identification with antiquity had been seen as a continuous history of Christendom from the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine I. Renaissance classicism introduced a host of elements into European culture, including the application of mathematics and empiricism into art, humanism, literary and depictive realism, and formalism. Importantly it also introduced Polytheism, or "paganism", and the juxtaposition of ancient and modern.

The classicism of the Renaissance led to, and gave way to, a different sense of what was "classical" in the 16th and 17th centuries. In this period, classicism took on more overtly structural overtones of orderliness, predictability, the use of geometry and grids, the importance of rigorous discipline and pedagogy, as well as the formation of schools of art and music. The court of Louis XIV was seen as the center of this form of classicism, with its references to the gods of Olympus as a symbolic prop for absolutism, its adherence to axiomatic and deductive reasoning, and its love of order and predictability.

This period sought the revival of classical art forms, including Greek drama and music. Opera, in its modern European form, had its roots in attempts to recreate the combination of singing and dancing with theatre thought to be the Greek norm. Examples of this appeal to classicism included Dante, Petrarch, and Shakespeare in poetry and theatre. Tudor drama, in particular, modeled itself after classical ideals and divided works into Tragedy [4] and Comedy. Studying Ancient Greek became regarded as essential for a well-rounded education in the liberal arts.

The Renaissance also explicitly returned to architectural models and techniques associated with Greek and Roman antiquity, including the golden rectangle as a key proportion for buildings, the classical orders of columns, as well as a host of ornament and detail associated with Greek and Roman architecture. They also began reviving plastic arts such as bronze casting for sculpture, and used the classical naturalism as the foundation of drawing, painting and sculpture.

The Age of Enlightenment identified itself with a vision of antiquity which, while continuous with the classicism of the previous century, was shaken by the physics of Sir Isaac Newton, the improvements in machinery and measurement, and a sense of liberation which they saw as being present in the Greek civilization, particularly in its struggles against the Persian Empire. The ornate, organic, and complexly integrated forms of the baroque were to give way to a series of movements that regarded themselves expressly as "classical" or "neo-classical", or would rapidly be labelled as such. For example, the painting of Jacques-Louis David was seen as an attempt to return to formal balance, clarity, manliness, and vigor in art.

The 19th century saw the classical age as being the precursor of academicism, including such movements as uniformitarianism in the sciences, and the creation of rigorous categories in artistic fields. Various movements of the romantic period saw themselves as classical revolts against a prevailing trend of emotionalism and irregularity, for example the Pre-Raphaelites.[5] By this point, classicism was old enough that previous classical movements received revivals; for example, the Renaissance was seen as a means to combine the organic medieval with the orderly classical. The 19th century continued or extended many classical programs in the sciences, most notably the Newtonian program to account for the movement of energy between bodies by means of exchange of mechanical and thermal energy.

The 20th century saw a number of changes in the arts and sciences. Classicism was used both by those who rejected, or saw as temporary, transfigurations in the political, scientific, and social world and by those who embraced the changes as a means to overthrow the perceived weight of the 19th century. Thus, both pre-20th century disciplines were labelled "classical" and modern movements in art which saw themselves as aligned with light, space, sparseness of texture, and formal coherence.

In the present day philosophy classicism is used as a term particularly in relation to Apollonian over Dionysian impulses in society and art; that is a preference for rationality, or at least rationally guided catharsis, over emotionalism.

In the theatre

Molière - Nicolas Mignard (1658)
Molière in classical dress, by Nicolas Mignard, 1658.

Classicism in the theatre was developed by 17th century French playwrights from what they judged to be the rules of Greek classical theatre, including the "Classical unities" of time, place and action, found in the Poetics of Aristotle.

  • Unity of time referred to the need for the entire action of the play to take place in a fictional 24-hour period
  • Unity of place meant that the action should unfold in a single location
  • Unity of action meant that the play should be constructed around a single 'plot-line', such as a tragic love affair or a conflict between honour and duty.

Examples of classicist playwrights are Pierre Corneille, Jean Racine and Molière. In the period of Romanticism, Shakespeare, who conformed to none of the classical rules, became the focus of French argument over them, in which the Romantics eventually triumphed; Victor Hugo was among the first French playwrights to break these conventions.

The influence of these French rules on playwrights in other nations is debatable. In the English theatre, Restoration playwrights such as William Wycherly and William Congreve would have been familiar with them. William Shakespeare and his contemporaries did not follow this Classicist philosophy, in particular since they were not French and also because they wrote several decades prior to their establishment. Those of Shakespeare's plays that seem to display the unities, such as The Tempest,[6] probably indicate a familiarity with actual models from classical antiquity.

In architecture

Classicism in architecture developed during the Italian Renaissance, notably in the writings and designs of Leon Battista Alberti and the work of Filippo Brunelleschi. It places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts as they are demonstrated in the architecture of Classical antiquity and in particular, the architecture of Ancient Rome, of which many examples remained.

Orderly arrangements of columns, pilasters and lintels, as well as the use of semicircular arches, hemispherical domes, niches and aedicules replaced the more complex proportional systems and irregular profiles of medieval buildings. This style quickly spread to other Italian cities and then to France, Germany, England, Russia and elsewhere.

In the 16th century, Sebastiano Serlio helped codify the classical orders and Palladio's legacy evolved into the long tradition of Palladian architecture. Building off of these influences, the 17th-century architects Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren firmly established classicism in England.

For the development of classicism from the mid-18th-century onwards, see Neoclassical architecture.

In the fine arts

Italian Renaissance painting[7] and sculpture are marked by their renewal of classical forms, motifs and subjects. In the 15th century Leon Battista Alberti was important in theorizing many of the ideas for painting that came to a fully realised product with Raphael's School of Athens during the High Renaissance. The themes continued largely unbroken into the 17th century, when artists such as Nicolas Poussin and Charles Le Brun represented of the more rigid classicism. Like Italian classicizing ideas in the 15th and 16th centuries, it spread through Europe in the mid to late 17th century.

Later classicism in painting and sculpture from the mid-18th and 19th centuries is generally referred to as Neoclassicism.

See also


  1. ^ Clark, The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form 1956:242
  2. ^ Walters, Kerry (September 2011). "JOURNAL ARTICLE Review". Church History. 80: 691–693. JSTOR 41240671.
  3. ^ Johnson, James William (1969). "What Was Neo-Classicism?". Journal of British Studies. 9: 49–70. JSTOR 175167.
  4. ^ Bakogianni, Anastasia (2012). "G. VAN STEEN". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 132: 294–296. JSTOR 41722362.
  5. ^ "JOURNAL ARTICLE The Pre-Raphaelites". Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum. 10: 62–63. November 1943. JSTOR 4301128.
  6. ^ Pierce, Robert B. (Spring 1999). "Understanding "The Tempest"". New Literary History. 30: 373–388. JSTOR 20057542.
  7. ^ Larsen, Michael (March 1978). "Italian Renaissance Painting by John Hale". Journal of the Royal Society of Arts. 126: 243–244. JSTOR 41372753.

Further reading

  • Kallendorf, Craig (2007). A Companion to the Classical Tradition. Blackwell Publishing. Retrieved 2012-05-06. Essays by various authors on topics related to historical periods, places, and themes. Limited preview online.

External links

17th-century French art

17th-century French art is generally referred to as Baroque, but from the mid to late 17th century, the style of French art shows a classical adherence to certain rules of proportion and sobriety uncharacteristic of the Baroque as it was practiced in most of the rest of Europe during the same period.

17th-century French literature

17th-century French literature was written throughout the Grand Siècle of France, spanning the reigns of Henry IV of France, the Regency of Marie de Medici, Louis XIII of France, the Regency of Anne of Austria (and the civil war called the Fronde) and the reign of Louis XIV of France. The literature of this period is often equated with the Classicism of Louis XIV's long reign, during which France led Europe in political and cultural development; its authors expounded the classical ideals of order, clarity, proportion and good taste. In reality, 17th-century French literature encompasses far more than just the classicist masterpieces of Jean Racine and Madame de La Fayette.

Abramavičiai Palace

Abramavičiai Palace - building in Vilnius Old Town, Rotušė square. Currently it is owned by Vilnius Juozas Tallat-Kelpša conservatory.

Academic art

Academic art, or academicism or academism, is a style of painting, sculpture, and architecture produced under the influence of European academies of art. Specifically, academic art is the art and artists influenced by the standards of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts, which was practiced under the movements of Neoclassicism and Romanticism, and the art that followed these two movements in the attempt to synthesize both of their styles, and which is best reflected by the paintings of William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Thomas Couture, and Hans Makart. In this context it is often called "academism", "academicism", "art pompier" (pejoratively), and "eclecticism", and sometimes linked with "historicism" and "syncretism".

Beaux-Arts architecture

Beaux-Arts architecture (; French: [bozaʁ]) was the academic architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, particularly from the 1830s to the end of the 19th century. It drew upon the principles of French neoclassicism, but also incorporated Gothic and Renaissance elements, and used modern materials, such as iron and glass. It was an important style in France until the end of the 19th century. It also had a strong influence on architecture in the United States, because of the many prominent American architects who studied at the Beaux-Arts, including Henry Hobson Richardson, John Galen Howard, Daniel Burnham, and Louis Sullivan.

Cirkliškis Manor

Cirkliškis Manor is a former residential manor in Cirkliškis, 3 km (1.9 mi) southwest from Švenčionys. Main manor building is built in classicism style, has two floors, main facade consists of 6 columns portico. Smithy, icehouse and 35 hectares park have also remained until nowadays.

Classical Realism

Classical Realism refers to an artistic movement in late-20th and early 21st century in which drawing and painting place a high value upon skill and beauty, combining elements of 19th-century neoclassicism and realism.

Classical architecture

Classical architecture usually denotes architecture which is more or less consciously derived from the principles of Greek and Roman architecture of classical antiquity, or sometimes even more specifically, from the works of Vitruvius. Different styles of classical architecture have arguably existed since the Carolingian Renaissance, and prominently since the Italian Renaissance. Although classical styles of architecture can vary greatly, they can in general all be said to draw on a common "vocabulary" of decorative and constructive elements. In much of the Western world, different classical architectural styles have dominated the history of architecture from the Renaissance until the second world war, though it continues to inform many architects to this day.

The term "classical architecture" also applies to any mode of architecture that has evolved to a highly refined state, such as classical Chinese architecture, or classical Mayan architecture. It can also refer to any architecture that employs classical aesthetic philosophy. The term might be used differently from "traditional" or "vernacular architecture", although it can share underlying axioms with it.

For contemporary buildings following authentic classical principles, the term New Classical Architecture may be used.

Classical period (music)

The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1730 and 1820.The Classical period falls between the Baroque and the Romantic periods. Classical music has a lighter, clearer texture than Baroque music and is less complex. It is mainly homophonic, using a clear melody line over a subordinate chordal accompaniment, but counterpoint was by no means forgotten, especially later in the period. It also makes use of style galant which emphasized light elegance in place of the Baroque's dignified seriousness and impressive grandeur. Variety and contrast within a piece became more pronounced than before and the orchestra increased in size, range, and power.

The harpsichord was replaced as the main keyboard instrument by the piano (or fortepiano). Unlike the harpsichord, which plucked strings with quills, pianos strike the strings with leather-covered hammers when the keys are pressed, which enables the performer to play louder or softer and play with more expression; in contrast, the force with which a performer plays the harpsichord keys does not change the sound. Instrumental music was considered important by Classical period composers. The main kinds of instrumental music were the sonata, trio, string quartet, symphony (performed by an orchestra) and the solo concerto, which featured a virtuoso solo performer playing a solo work for violin, piano, flute, or another instrument, accompanied by an orchestra. Vocal music, such as songs for a singer and piano (notably the work of Schubert), choral works, and opera (a staged dramatic work for singers and orchestra) were also important during this period.

The best-known composers from this period are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert; other notable names include Luigi Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Antonio Salieri, Leopold Mozart, Johann Christian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Christoph Willibald Gluck. Ludwig van Beethoven is regarded either as a Romantic composer or a Classical period composer who was part of the transition to the Romantic era. Franz Schubert is also a transitional figure, as were Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Luigi Cherubini, Gaspare Spontini, Gioachino Rossini, Carl Maria von Weber and Nicolo Paganini. The period is sometimes referred to as the era of Viennese Classic or Classicism (German: Wiener Klassik), since Gluck, Mozart, Haydn, Salieri, Schubert, and Beethoven all worked in Vienna.

Kairėnai Manor

Kairėnai Manor was a residential manor in Kairėnai near Vilnius, Lithuania. Only a few buildings and park survived until nowadays. Currently its territory is occupied by the Botanical Garden of Vilnius University.

List of Slovak poets

The following is a list of notable poets of Slovak literature.


Neoclassicism (also spelled Neo-classicism; from Greek νέος nèos, "new" and Greek κλασικός klasikόs, "of the highest rank") is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of classical antiquity. Neoclassicism was born largely thanks to the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, at the time of the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but its popularity spread all over Europe as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, laterally competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th, 20th and up to the 21st century.

European Neoclassicism in the visual arts began c. 1760 in opposition to the then-dominant Rococo style. Rococo architecture emphasizes grace, ornamentation and asymmetry; Neoclassical architecture is based on the principles of simplicity and symmetry, which were seen as virtues of the arts of Rome and Ancient Greece, and were more immediately drawn from 16th-century Renaissance Classicism. Each "neo"-classicism selects some models among the range of possible classics that are available to it, and ignores others. The Neoclassical writers and talkers, patrons and collectors, artists and sculptors of 1765–1830 paid homage to an idea of the generation of Phidias, but the sculpture examples they actually embraced were more likely to be Roman copies of Hellenistic sculptures. They ignored both Archaic Greek art and the works of Late Antiquity. The "Rococo" art of ancient Palmyra came as a revelation, through engravings in Wood's The Ruins of Palmyra. Even Greece was all-but-unvisited, a rough backwater of the Ottoman Empire, dangerous to explore, so Neoclassicists' appreciation of Greek architecture was mediated through drawings and engravings, which subtly smoothed and regularized, "corrected" and "restored" the monuments of Greece, not always consciously.

The Empire style, a second phase of Neoclassicism in architecture and the decorative arts, had its cultural centre in Paris in the Napoleonic era.

Neoclassicism (music)

Neoclassicism in music was a twentieth-century trend, particularly current in the interwar period, in which composers sought to return to aesthetic precepts associated with the broadly defined concept of "classicism", namely order, balance, clarity, economy, and emotional restraint. As such, neoclassicism was a reaction against the unrestrained emotionalism and perceived formlessness of late Romanticism, as well as a "call to order" after the experimental ferment of the first two decades of the twentieth century. The neoclassical impulse found its expression in such features as the use of pared-down performing forces, an emphasis on rhythm and on contrapuntal texture, an updated or expanded tonal harmony, and a concentration on absolute music as opposed to Romantic program music.

In form and thematic technique, neoclassical music often drew inspiration from music of the 18th century, though the inspiring canon belonged as frequently to the Baroque and even earlier periods as to the Classical period—for this reason, music which draws inspiration specifically from the Baroque is sometimes termed neo-Baroque music. Neoclassicism had two distinct national lines of development, French (proceeding partly from the influence of Erik Satie and represented by Igor Stravinsky, who was in fact Russian-born) and German (proceeding from the "New Objectivity" of Ferruccio Busoni, who was actually Italian, and represented by Paul Hindemith). Neoclassicism was an aesthetic trend rather than an organized movement; even many composers not usually thought of as "neoclassicists" absorbed elements of the style.

Nordic Classicism

Nordic Classicism was a style of architecture that briefly blossomed in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland) between 1910 and 1930.

Until a resurgence of interest for the period during the 1980s (marked by several scholarly studies and public exhibitions), Nordic Classicism was regarded as a mere interlude between two far more well-known architectural movements, National Romanticism, or Jugendstil (often seen as equivalent or parallel to Art Nouveau), and Functionalism (aka Modernism).

Perrault's Colonnade

Claude Perrault's Colonnade is the easternmost façade of the Palais du Louvre in Paris.

It has been celebrated as the foremost masterpiece of French Architectural Classicism since its construction, mostly between 1667 and 1670. Cast in a restrained classicizing baroque manner, it interprets rules laid down by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, whose works Perrault had translated into French. Architect Louis Le Vau and artist Charles Le Brun also contributed to the realization of Perrault's work.

Postmodern music

Postmodern music is either simply music of the postmodern era, or music that follows aesthetical and philosophical trends of postmodernism. As the name suggests, the postmodernist movement formed partly in reaction to modernism. Even so, postmodern music still does not primarily define itself in opposition to modernist music; this label is applied instead by critics and theorists.

Postmodern music is not a distinct musical style, but rather refers to music of the postmodern era. The terms "postmodern", "postmodernism", "postmodernist", and "postmodernity" are exasperating terms (Bertens 1995, 3). Indeed, postmodernists question the tight definitions and categories of academic disciplines, which they regard simply as the remnants of modernity (Rosenau 1992, 6–7).

Stalinist architecture

Stalinist architecture, mostly known in the former Eastern Bloc as Stalinist Empire style (Russian: Сталинский Ампир, romanized: Stalinskiy Ampir) or Socialist Classicism, is a term given to architecture of the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, between 1933, when Boris Iofan's draft for Palace of the Soviets was officially approved, and 1955, when Nikita Khrushchev condemned "excesses" of the past decades and disbanded the Soviet Academy of Architecture. Stalinist architecture is associated with the socialist realism school of art and architecture.

Stripped Classicism

Stripped Classicism (or "Starved Classicism" or "Grecian Moderne") is primarily a 20th-century classicist architectural style stripped of most or all ornamentation, frequently employed by governments while designing official buildings. It was adapted by both totalitarian and democratic regimes. The style embraces a "simplified but recognizable" classicism in its overall massing and scale while eliminating traditional decorative detailing. The orders of architecture are only hinted at or are indirectly implicated in the form and structure.Despite its etymological similarity, Stripped Classicism is sometimes distinguished from "Starved Classicism", the latter "displaying little feeling for rules, proportions, details, and finesse, and lacking all verve and élan". At other times the terms "stripped" and "starved" are used interchangeably.

Weimar Classicism

Weimar Classicism (German: Weimarer Klassik) was a German literary and cultural movement, whose practitioners established a new humanism, from the synthesis of ideas from Romanticism, Classicism, and the Age of Enlightenment.

The Weimarer Klassik movement lasted thirty-three years, from 1772 until 1805, and involved intellectuals such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller, and Christoph Martin Wieland; and then was concentrated upon Goethe and Schiller during the period 1788–1805.

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