Italy Arts - the Primitive Renaissance 1

Italy Arts – the Primitive Renaissance Part 1


According to ITYPEAUTO, the great achievements of the fifteenth century, in painting by Masaccio, in sculpture by Donatello, were made possible by the genius of Filippo Brunelleschi, inventor of architectural perspective. While in the north of Italy the flowery Gothic still dominated, Florentine architecture had already completed, with Filippo, the transition from the impetus of the Gothic to the regularity of the square, to the domination of the horizontal line and of the all-round arch; with him the constructive simplification that characterizes, as for sculpture and painting, the new style was established.

Civil architecture takes, at the beginning of the century. XV, the upper hand over religious architecture. The type of the new art is the Florentine palace, a massive construction around a quadrangular courtyard, surrounded by columned arcades. The exterior still retains the character of the castles of the Middle Ages, in which fullness prevails over emptiness; but the ornamentation of the interior is perfectly inspired by classical art. The same characters transform the construction of the church, surmounted by a dome on a square plan. The bundles of small columns are replaced by pillars and columns; the ogival vault from the barrel vault or a flat ceiling decorated with coffered. Outside are columns, pediments and niches, that is, the elements of Roman architecture.

Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446) was the author of the great revolution, with the dome of S. Maria del Fiore, built on ancient projects, the facade of Palazzo Pitti, the Pazzi chapel in Santa Croce, S. Lorenzo and S. Spirito from Florence. Nothing remains of the overabundant fourteenth-century decoration, although the dominion of the voids, the speed of the light arches, the slenderness of the subtly outlined frames, still recall gothic trends. The classic elegance of the Pazzi chapel is among the most typical expressions of Brunelleschi’s genius: on the outside, agile arches, barrel vaults with coffered adorned with roses, friezes of cherubs; inside, an aristocratic rectangular room surmounted by a dome with rays; no projection, no shadow play breaks the geometric regularity of the spaces, the schematic framing of the white walls, on which pillars and arches of all momentum build a linear gray texture. For the sake of regularity and squaring, Filippo Brunelleschi uses, in rebuilding the church of San Lorenzo, the type of the Christian basilica, with a flat ceiling and dividing colonnades. But the classic model here too translates into Florentine work: the ancient massiveness gives rise to a predominance of voids and slender silhouettes; the ornamentation emphasizes the line everywhere: the spindles, the spirals, the intertwining under the arches emphasize, multiplying it, the lithe jet of the arches.

Under the influence of Brunelleschi, many artists began to architect in the new style. And just as it happened for sculpture, in the Tuscan generation following Donatello, the successor architects of Brunelleschi used his systems and motifs to draw more graceful and gentle results.

Among the Tuscan followers only one, Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472), managed to create his own style, essentially different from that of the master, to open a new path, even if based on his principles. Brunelleschi implements the reform through the classical squaring, the discipline introduced in the construction by the full-center arch and by a wider use of the horizontal line; but there remains in him a tendency to instill agility to the shapes, momentum and linear continuity to the arches, domination of the empty spaces on the solid, to the architectural backbone, anti-Roman lightness. With Leon Battista Alberti alone, the taste for fullness began in the fifteenth century, for the thickness of the walls. Intervals of massive wall separate the chapels in Sant’Andrea di Mantova; and in the sides of the temple of Sigismondo Malatesta in Rimini a grandiose effect arises from the nakedness of giant blocks of stone, cut in geometry. Equally significant of new trends is the transformation of the Brunelleschi’s dome, quick, elevated, light, into the heavy, blind, hemispherical Albertian dome. The exterior of Filippo Brunelleschi’s churches repeats the type of the interior; with Leon Battista Alberti, the exterior takes on a clearly defined and magnificent character: the majesty of massive block comes to the temple of Sigismondo from the unity of the sides and the triumphal facade, from the rest of the extended surfaces, from the park and ornate massif. Genius builder, casual Florentine elegance, love of Islamic profiles, in Brunelleschi; passionate imagination, exaltation of the mass, in Alberti. The pattern of Brunelleschi’s buildings is repeated with few variations: it changes, for example, in the church of Santo Spirito, due to the imaginative illusory crossing of column paths under light pergolas of vaults. The layout of the buildings designed by Leon Battista Alberti varies with surprising richness, from the heroic character of the Malatesta temple, a hymn of glory raised by large domes and triumphal arches, to the elegant elegance of the small temple of S. Pancrazio. Supreme theorist, humanistic mind, Leon Battista Alberti surpasses in his projects, not only of buildings, but of entire and unworkable cities, his great real architectures. Also in his works there is the concept that the foundation of beauty is eurythmy: “those same numbers, for which it happens that the concentration of voices appears most grateful to the ears of men, it is the same ones who still fill the eyes and soul with wonderful pleasure ”. In composing the building, Alberti brings a romantic sense unknown to Filippo: “the mystery of the shadow in the temples, the fires, the great lights, the lights around the altar”.

Italy Arts - the Primitive Renaissance 1