A BAROQUE PRELUDE IN THE MIRROR OF ETERNAL CLASSICISM. A DISCUSSION OF THE TERM 'BAROQUE' IN FRENCH ART HISTORY
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The term 'Baroque' in Central European art history denotes an artistic form and at the same time the entire period following the Renaissance and preceding 19th-century Classicism. In the creation of great synthetic works, this arthistorical denotation is commonly applied to the development of art in other European countries as well - including those which do not use it themselves in the context of their own art. This conflict may be seen most distinctly in French art history. The term 'Baroque' was long a pejorative label in France for architecture which had sinned against good - that is, Classical - taste. In particular, the architecture of Francesco Borromini and his followers, some of whom were also students at the French Academy in Rome, was taken to be the incarnation of such 'bad taste'. The term 'Baroque' underwent an interesting transformation in the 19th and 20th centuries, during which it saw itself transformed from a 'vitiator' of Classical architecture to its eternal antipole in the minds of certain theoreticians. After World War Two, French scholars began rediscovering 18th-century Central European architecture, thanks to which the positive perception of the term was enhanced even further. At present, it is said that the term 'Baroque' might even supersede the formerly accepted term 'Classical', which has characterised French architecture from the 16th to the 19th centuries for hundreds of years. Thus made equivalent, these two terms, once opposed, would both be divested of meaning. This work attempts to draw attention to the fact that the way particular arthistorical schools conceive their terminology proceeds in tandem with research into concrete materials and that the terms arising in the process cannot be transferred mechanically from one cultural sphere to another. At the same time, it points out that one need not resign oneself to a quest for such universal terms representing a higher level of communication and give us an overview of art as a whole or in a wider context. It is only necessary to properly define one's terms and respect the differences between individual arthistorical schools, which may, incidentally, point to deeper differences between the characters and contexts of artworks from various cultural milieus.
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