The arts have always played an active role in promoting social change, which leads to more social diversity in any given society. Within any culture, it is the artists, through their creation of paintings, sculptures, prints, theater, music, literature, dance, and other art forms, who provide us a better understanding of the world we inhabit, both past and present. An artist can provide context to philosophy, religion, aesthetical theories, economics, and politics along with other social concerns. This is due to how artists record and commemorate events by giving tangible for the unknown and to ideas and feeling of people living in their localities. Also, through an artist’s work we can experience life and situations differently than we previously considered possible. In short, artists help us fully understand past experiences leading to social change and diversity.
We will now examine the underlining social, political, and artistic movement known as the Reformation. It was during the Early Renaissance that Petrarch promoted the revival of classical learning and literature, scholars term Humanism. The humanist wanted to extend quality education to laypeople by investigating nature phenomenal without religious bias and logically scrutinizing philosophical and theological teachings. Contrary to popular understanding, the rise of humanism was not intended to “signify a decline in the importance of Christian” values since most art in Europe still contained “an intense Christian spirituality.” (Stokstad, 2008, p. 586) However, there was much skepticism about the Western Church in the minds of Renaissance thinkers. As a result, just as the Renaissance was reaching the northern boundaries of Europe and into England, so was a new way of thinking about religious and secular duties of those in positions of authority. This thinking has become known as the Protestant Reformation.
Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries of Europe a “new religious movement, known as the ‘modern devotion’” was seen. (Sayre, 2010, p.239) The movement was one where “lay citizens gathered in houses organized to promote a lifestyle similar to that of monks and nuns” but this is where they stopped, since no monastic vows were taken. (Sayre, 2010, p.239) The ‘modern devotion’ movement would see a tragic end with the coming of the Protestants Reformation, which is a pivotal point in religious and secular historical division.
Sayre, H. M. (2010). Discovering the Humanities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall Pearson.
Stokstad, M. (2008). Art history. (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 553-1238). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.