Sunday, April 24, 2011

HSTARC 2: On Baroque Architecture

Baroque was derived from a term ‘rough or imperfect pearl’ seeming like an insult to artists at that time. After the religious movement called the Reformation spread across Europe, people started to question practices of the Catholic Church and so protestant churches emerged. The Catholics then started a movement that aimed to bring people back to church called the Counter-Reformation where art and architecture played a major role in. Art was used to draw people closer to religion and to emphasize the magnificence of God and the saints thus gave birth to what we know as Baroque.
While the Renaissance structures were composed of squares, circles and triangles that possessed symmetry, architects of the Baroque era focused on adding drama, complexity and dimension into their works. The designs during the Baroque amused me because they were very unpredictable, the usually straight lines were bent and formed curves, circles were stretched to ovals, thus introducing new patterns unknown to architecture before. They changed how people see architecture by stepping out of the norm and introducing their own distinct style. They emphasized drama in the interiors of the buildings with the usage of unusual lighting effects and illusions for fluidity.
            For me, Baroque architecture encompasses the best use of ornamentation and details. I like how the usual round arches started to take on bending shapes. Traditional geometrical forms and shapes were torn to create new unusual patterns. A great example of this is the circular dome of the church of San Lorenzo in Turin by Guarino Guarini. See (picture below) how the ribs criss-cross forming segments with the presence of odd shaped windows how the combination of all these made a simple dome look more complex.

            Baroque architecture had a sense of distortion that makes it unparagoned. You can still see its roots and how it evolved from classical architecture. For me, this era was able to create its unique characteristics successfully more than the other styles. Architects of this time were brave enough to step out of their comfort zone and making their attempt to create something new and distinct very victorious.

            As the baroque period was starting to end, the Rococo style was born. In simple terms, the Rococo style just made the baroque more complex having a widespread use of the new S-shaped and  C-shaped curves. They fore go of symmetry and explored the different assymetrical effects taking baroque to extremes. They added MORE ornamentation to the interior and exterior of buildings. I am personally not a fan of this heavy ornamentation the Rococo style demonstrated for i find it too messy. Although i admire how this style though short lived has achieved distinctiveness that sets it apart from the other past and future styles.

An example of a structure showing the Rococo Style - interior of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo

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