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Giotto di Bondone

The Lamentation of Christ

Around 1305

Question conventions

The Tuscan Giotto di Bondone - or more simply Giotto - is often presented as the father of "modern" art, in the very broad sense of the term: with the hindsight of the centuries, it is believed that he embodies, more

than any other artist, the transition between

painting of the Middle Ages and that of the Re-

birth. He was notably  the first to

m and being on stage interactive characters

lying with each other in a

careful dramaturgy , and to attribute to them

emotions identifiable with their gestures.

But one of the formal innovations

Giotto's most important  as natural

as it may seem today,  lies in his deliberate choice to paint blue skies. Indeed, art having at that time a purpose almost exclusively

religious, painters used to use the color gold to represent the sky, both  it was admitted that  all  light was of divine essence. Giotto, at  

             beginning of the 14th century, understood that he

             was time to upset this conven-

             tion. For two centuries of movements

             more and more heretics and

             powerful threatened the spiritual hegemony

             guardianship of the Vatican by offering

             believers a more direct relationship with God, far  

             of Catholic liturgy and the curia

             Roman. Giotto's idea was therefore to

             suggest, by substituting for the golden sky sym-

             bolique the blue sky that we perceive, 

that the Catholic Church was not only concerned with abstract theological questions,  but was also sensitive to the earthly concerns of the faithful.

Duccio, The Lamentation of Christ , 1308

What we can take away:

Our way of acting - and sometimes even of thinking - is partly determined by conventions whose legitimacy it is healthy to regularly question. Because if they made sense when they were established, it is possible that the evolution of society has made them obsolete.  In this case we can free ourselves from it, and thus get out of the norm to explore new possibilities.

Related theme: Creativity
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