Essentials of Mannerist Art & Architecture



Mannerist Art and Architecture is not as well known as the Renaissance Art which came before and the Baroque Art which came afterwards, but it is a critical chapter in the development towards Modern Western European Art. In the mid to late sixteenth century, the political, social, and even religious fabric of life in Italy which had been a certainty was unraveling at the seams. Artists stopped looking to first-hand observation and turned instead to the copying, distorting, and surpassing of other great artists’ work before them. Mannerism could not have developed in a void without the Renaissance, but the Mannerist painter and architect broke all the rules which the authorities of the Renaissance- Brunelleschi and Alberti, for example- laid down. We see artwork charged with psychological turmoil, designed to provoke an intense emotional reaction in the viewer: uncertainty, disorientation, wonder, awe, and even terror. However, Mannerist Art followed the tastes of elite courts of Europe, and we see a permissiveness extended to its erotic and transgressive forms that the later Baroque Art, intended for mass consumption, would ultimately silence and censure.