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A Complicated Simplicity

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Abstract:

The humanist Philipp Melanchthon divided the paintings of his contemporaries into three groups, based on style: the Simple, the Middle and the Grand. Modeled after categories used in classical rhetoric, Melanchthon's judgment has had a lasting influence. His remarks regarding the "simple style" have determined how we view paintings and prints produced in the early decades of the sixteenth century. As recently noted by Joseph Koerner, this is most evident in the reception of Lucas Cranach, particularly his characterization as an artist whose chief concern lay with content, rather than with form. And yet, much of Cranach's graphic production suggests that he was as interested in exploiting the possibilities of his medium as he was with communicating a predetermined message. Why then would Melanchthon refer to Cranach's style as simple? What does such "simplicity" entail? And why has it become a hallmark of Reformation studies?
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Association:
Name: RSA Annual Meeting
URL:
http://www.rsa.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p481547_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Szalay, Gabriella. "A Complicated Simplicity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the RSA Annual Meeting, Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel, Montreal, Quebec Canada, <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p481547_index.html>

APA Citation:

Szalay, G. "A Complicated Simplicity" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the RSA Annual Meeting, Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Hotel, Montreal, Quebec Canada <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p481547_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: The humanist Philipp Melanchthon divided the paintings of his contemporaries into three groups, based on style: the Simple, the Middle and the Grand. Modeled after categories used in classical rhetoric, Melanchthon's judgment has had a lasting influence. His remarks regarding the "simple style" have determined how we view paintings and prints produced in the early decades of the sixteenth century. As recently noted by Joseph Koerner, this is most evident in the reception of Lucas Cranach, particularly his characterization as an artist whose chief concern lay with content, rather than with form. And yet, much of Cranach's graphic production suggests that he was as interested in exploiting the possibilities of his medium as he was with communicating a predetermined message. Why then would Melanchthon refer to Cranach's style as simple? What does such "simplicity" entail? And why has it become a hallmark of Reformation studies?


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