The Analysis of Aesthetics of Light in Tenebrism (Since 15th Century to the Present)
The 17th century is well known as the beginning of the continent of Europe's entry into new eras following Middle Ages and even the age of renaissance, when political, economic, philosophical, scientific, cultural and artistic movements emerged. During this period, the ideas of Rene Decart, John lock and other French and British philosophers' ideas as well as viewpoints of scientists such as Blerr Pascall and Isaac Newton, Physicians from the same countries and William Shakespeare the English poet and writer, made significant changes and alterations to previous ideologies, beliefs and principles. At the same time, with the blossoming of Opera, refining of the instruments of modern orchestra and performing sounds in a multi tone manner (polyphony) instead of one melody (monophony), a new era began in music. These revolutions are called the age of enlightenment: the arts are intermingled with intellectualism, self-admiration, materialism and to some extent spiritualism in this new age. And from among all this, Baroque style was born. In fact, Baroque is recognised as an aristocratic, luxurious, counter-mannerist and regarding concept, a spiritual one, yet a materialistic art in terms of skill. One of the Italian artists of this era, i.e. Michelangelo Merisi, better known as Caravaggio, uses this style with a distinct outlook towards light and shade (Chiaroscuro), and creates a new style called 'Tenebrism'. Therefore, artists such as the French painter, Georges de La Tour, or the Dutch painter and print-maker, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, and many others were immensely influenced by the aesthetics of light and made more efforts to use this notion as compared to the past artists. The term Tenebrism is derived from the Latin word Tenebrea (meaning to dive into the depth of darkness) which is rooted in Christianity as well. As a style of painting within the history of Western art, Tenebrism begins with using the contrast between light and darkness as a theatrical element. Most artists use it first in the background of their paintings, then in the middle lastly in the foreground. In fact, they start by a making a part of their work very dark and then use the light to make the main part of painting to pop out and give the illusion of a three-dimensional work of art. This contrast between light and dark is called Tenebrosso in the Italian language. Likewise, Tenebres in the French language means angel, prince or king of darkness. The word Tenebrist also refers to an artist who is creating works of art in the framework of Tenebrism style. The paper at hands intends to analyze, examine and explore the visual construction and influential factors in aesthetics of light within Tenebrism. To this purpose, first the main question of this research is answered: How and why under the influence of new scientific experiments, the meaning of light has changed from that of a divine and sacred element in the past into a materialistic and worldly component in Western paintings? The research findings indicate that Tenebrism is the revelation of light within darkness; due to the firm belief and ideology of a lot of Western artists that everything (including the existence and light) is born from within the heart of darkness. Similarly, in Greek mythology, Apollo, the god of light, dispenses light far and wide while riding on his horse, in order to defeat darkness; Or in the middle ages, light was considered as a manifestation of God. The study comes to the conclusion that the age of enlightenment turned to be a notable era for transforming the preceding notions. Consequently, in a few paintings of this period, light concentrates only on the main subject to highly distinguish objects and characters; and it leaves the rest of the visual space in darkness. In fact, attention to such conception in few of art works of this period is not only driven from mythical and religious motives, but also from enlightening values and aesthetical understandings, all of which have been revealed in this study.
Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Journal of Theoretical principles of Visual Arts, Volume:5 Issue: 1, 2020
4 - 20  
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