Signs & Symbols in Christian Art During the Early Italian Renaissance and Renaissance

“When language was not transcendental enough to complete the meaning of revelation, symbols were relied upon for teaching, and familiar images, chosen from the known, were made to mirror the unknown spiritual truth.” One, among many things, that was phenomenal during the Renaissance period, was the artist’s’ ability to convey truths through signs and symbols in their paintings while experimenting with new technologies i.e. perspective and relative proportion. Although all art was not in direct connection to Christianity, there were many paintings that were.

Many Christian themed works conveys a message whether it is subtle or obvious. According to the author Douglas Fields of Scientific American, the shroud in the [Creation of Adam] by Michelangelo God the Father has a connection to the human brain. Perhaps a link to the supreme human intelligence that is attributed to the mind that God has bestowed to humans. Apart from Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, there is evidence that signs and symbols were very much real in the Renaissance period. Moreover, it is said that Michelangelo did care too much for Pope Julius II who hailed from the Della Rovere family. Therefore, Michelangelo placed little innuendos throughout the fresco. For instance, the two mischievous-looking angels behind Pope Julius’s head are seen “making the fig”–sticking the thumb between the index and middle fingers–the most obscene gesture of the Middle Ages and Renaissance (Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History 2013).

It will be quite interesting to see where these innuendos will be placed today. Maybe in some code, logo, databased, cloud, etc. It is quite clear that we are in the beginning of a common day renaissance. Technology is moving at rate that is hard to keep up with. Imagine through AI, cloud, 3d printing, and virtual reality the possibilities that exist to create as the thoughts flow. Signs and symbols are imperative to understanding the times.We must not seek for anything new because there is nothing new under the sun. However, we can pay close attention to Scripture and the gifted artist who in the renaissance were learning a new technology. Thus, the innovation of technology has always been there. The wonderful talent of Michelangelo to envision a simple shroud and making it a sign of a complex human brain and a connection to God who is beyond all understanding is phenomenal.

Anthony W. Brown

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