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The renaissance period could have been not been so much a milestone without art. Much as there was a rebirth in the way of life among the Italians, there was a corresponding change in the world of art and culture to reflect the true world at the moment. Art was therefore a complement of the Italian renaissance and it accomplished this through the following ways:
It was a tool of educating the entire population: Jensen (1992), in his work Renaissance Europe points out that the artisans were literate and educated unlike in Europe where artisans were from lower classes. This education was largely gained through art. People read widely especially the Literature of the time hence became quite knowledgeable. There were efforts to avail so many reading materials in order to spread out good ideas among the people. Among the significant efforts made were the translation of Greek and Latin Literature into other languages like English enabling many to be educated.
Art was seen as a reflection of the fashion of the culture: As the culture of a people continues to grow there is always a corresponding change in fashion and this was similarly reflected in the art. During the Italian renaissance, there was renewed interest in the classical antiquity, changes which were mainly associated with the elite. Osborne (2006, pp 181) argues that “….renaissance is a difficult concept for historians because the history of Europe quite suddenly turns into the history of Italian paintings, sculpture and architecture.’’ This shows that the society in the renaissance era was obsessed with art and the art of the time was seen as the taste of the fashion. People aspired to be associated with the artistic world that was prevalent in Italy.
Art was used to perpetuate the religious treasurers or ideals:-From the works of art we see for instance a sculpture of the biblical David which was done by Michelangelo in the 1500. This is documented in Sarah’s (1998), Looking at the Italian Renaissance Sculpture. From the biblical history David was a leader chosen by God who despite him being small in size managed to save his people in war by killing Goliath using a sling and a stone only. By having a sculpture of such a character, we see a society that treasures the use of wit and not necessarily strength and this is well perpetuated through the work of art. This also has a divine conscience that is quite treasured by the Italian people. Hagopian (1980) in The New Grove of Music and Musicians has documented the fact that many songs were sang in the papal style or the choirs at the numerous chapels of the aristocracy.
Art was an important source of economy:-The artists gained a lot through the sell or presentation of their artistic products. Concerts were organized and sculptures were sold and this really helped improve the standard of living of the artists. During this period the rich could not get good opportunities to invest hence spent their wealth on culture and art. This is posited by Lopez (1970) in his article entitled ‘Hard Times and Investment in Culture’. This saw into spreading of wealth to the economic advantage of the majority, unlike when it could have just been with the rich alone. Great artists also extended their hands in other related fields like Philosophy, science and medicine. Architecture was also well paying.
In conclusion it is clear from the arguments above that we cannot talk of Italian Renaissance without giving credit to the contribution of art. Art is seen to stretch from one aspect of life to another.