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Key Dates: 1520-1600

Artists of the Early Renaissance and the High Renaissance developed their characteristic styles from the observation of nature and the formulation of a pictorial science. When Mannerism matured after 1520(The year Raphael died), all the representational problems had been solved. A body of knowledge was there to be learned. Instead of nature as their teacher, Mannerist artists took art. While Renaissance artists sought nature to find their style, the Mannerists looked first for a style and found a manner.

In Mannerist paintings, compositions can have no focal point, space can be ambiguous, figures can be characterized by an athletic bending and twisting with distortions, exaggerations, an elastic elongation of the limbs, bizarre posturing on one hand, graceful posturing on the other hand, and a rendering of the heads as uniformly small and oval. The composition is jammed by clashing colors, which is unlike what we’ve seen in the balanced, natural, and dramatic colors of the High Renaissance. Mannerist artwork seeks instability and restlessness. There is also a fondness for allegories that have lascivious undertones.

Representative Artists:
Andrea del Sarto
Jacopo da Pontormo