Visual Arts and The Baroque Period

The Baroque is a period of creative style in art that began around 1600 in Italy and Rome. It advanced throughout the significant part of Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. The period is defined by an embroidered, extraordinary art with an objective to inspire admiration. Currently, the Baroque period is a unique artistic evolution in European art history. In this context, the essay discusses the progression of aesthetic principles in visual arts during the Baroque period through the 20th century and the role of visual arts in our everyday lives.

According to Parrish (2009), aesthetic principles that distinguish arts consist of various artistic elements such as texture, color shape, to impart values and emotions, create unanimity in a piece of art, and to convey the art’s meaning. Visual aesthetic principles in arts include balance, proportion, emphasis, variety, movement, rhythm, and harmony. The mentioned principles are used to formulate the essential art elements such as line, texture, and shape among others. Balance refers to art stability. There are three distinct examples of balance: asymmetrical, radial and symmetrical. Asymmetrical balance refers to when various types of aspects create a visual balance in art, and Symmetrical balance refers to when one portrait is reflected it repeats itself, and Radial balance relates to the dissemination of elements about a central spot in every direction.

Proportion refers to the ratio of an element to another in an artwork. It is necessary to remember the relation between the art elements so that the balance of the artwork makes a good visual impression. Variety is the creating of interests by changing the features or the use of various elements collectively in a composition. With range, it is necessary to acknowledge how the components work together. Emphasis is when one aspect of artwork is outstanding more than another element which develops the impression of importance and is deliberately used to communicate a directive or feeling. Movement is the principle of art used to devise a perception of activity in a work of art. The change applies to a single element or the entire composition — visual movement dependents on the other principles of art. Rhythm refers to the method of connecting elements applying continuous changes in the features. (bigger shapes to smaller shapes, dark color to a bright color). According to White (2011), graphic designs aim at achieving visual harmony. Harmony refers to a technique of joining corresponding elements in artwork to emphasize their similarities.

Primary characteristics in Baroque artistry are the extravagant use of motion pictures, which was used to give the viewer a feeling of drama, grandeur, and abundance. All these are articulated in different artistry works including sculpture making, literature, painting works. Another notable characteristic in Baroque style artwork is the employment of chiaroscuro, which means lighting. It involves contrasting brightness and darkness to bring out a mystical view of images mounted in dimly lit rooms. A Baroque artwork that has highly used chiaroscuro is ‘The Massacre of Innocents which was done by Peter Paul Reubens.

The Baroque style of artistry became dominant towards the 18th century and even expanded to other artworks like dance, music and sculpture making. They were common in Germany and Colonial South America due to the domination of the Catholic Church in these areas. The most notable periods of Baroque artistry are the reformation and counter-reformation periods. Reformation refers to the initial period where the Catholic Church was dominant and led to rapid expansion of Baroque arts. However, given the rise of Protestants who were against Catholic Church oppression fought fiercely against Catholic Church reforms, the Baroque style is one of them.

Counter-Reformation refers to the second push by the Catholic Church to expand its reach by employing the use of art to spread its borders, which led to the Baroque style being dominant in places with the dominant Catholic faith. Catholic Church mainly used the technique to stimulate the public’s view of Catholic norms and principles. Baroque style paintings were essential during the middle ages towards the last quarter of the previous millennium. It is evident as famous public places of the time, Catholic Church buildings and palaces were main places dominated by the Baroque style of arts.

During the-19th century, art was not in service to the church but designed by the elite and the middle classes with progressive materialistic and Western society. This society was experiencing accelerated change due to the advancement of science and urbanization. Artists were thus challenged by the requirement to dismiss historical, or academic designs and customs in an attempt to design art that reflects the transformed civil, material, and psychological conditions. Another incentive to change was the advancement of photography and photomechanical approaches from the early 19th century. The manually done arts were therefore no longer obligated to serve as the way of reporting and advertising as they had been and were ultimately liberated to delve into the visual elements of tone, color, and line. Indeed, the essential trend in current art has been an abstraction.

Art styles refer to how the artwork looks. The method is mostly how the artist depicts his or her art and how the artist discloses his or her perception.  Aspects that define the artwork determines the artist’s style, for instance, how the artist engages color, form, and design among others. Another essential element in selecting a style of art is to analyze how the artist deals with the medium, considering the technique of the artist. Another feature of art style is the outlook or the motivation behind the artwork. The preference artists define all of the style features make as they develop their artwork. Artworks of the same style have various elements in common. Sometimes this implies that they are of a similar movement; however, not always. “Movements” in art is often associated with a particular place and time in history. For example, some artists currently paint in an Impressionistic aspect, embracing the approaches that characterized Impressionism in the 19th century. Nonetheless, the present artists who are motivated by the Impressionists are not among the original “Impressionist movement” that existed in ancient time. Although art styles are revived, the movement is however in its initial position on the art timeline.

According to Gowans (1981), Commercial art is art created for exhibition and marketing. Commercial artists develop creativity used to market products, such as advertisements in newspapers and on social media. Industrial arts aim is to enhance the visibility of various products or to communicate a message.  Graphic design is often used to refer to commercial arts. It relates to the use of words and portraits to develop an advertisement.

To Design a graphic illustration, it is necessary to include several visual elements to portraits such as billboards and advertisements. The optical elements help to construct an image which represents a commodity and also conveys the information about the merchandise to the viewer. All the visual aspects play an important role in illustrating various signs or sending some definite information to the viewer. The examples of visual elements used in graphic design include shape, pattern, texture, and shape among others. These optical elements have been incorporated in advertisements, portraits, wrapping manufactured commodities, book covers, menus among others.

These visual elements have become very important to people since e not only attract them, but they also draw their attention by presenting or advocating significant issues. For instance, the advertisement designs below integrate the use of numerous geometric shapes and the splashes of color to convey information effectively.

Various commercial entities have assimilated the use of visual arts elements in designing advertisements to attract the attention of the people — the visual form in which the details are presented influences the decision to purchase items. Products designed with bold colors and attractive shapes attract more attention and hence the probability of buying increases.

In conclusion, visual arts have progressed all through the baroque period to the 20th century. Also, visual arts play a role in our everyday lives. Through art, we develop a better understanding of various commodities and places. Arts have significant impacts on moods and emotions, whether it’s a painting, music or even videos. Art influences us daily since visual arts, in some cases help in decision making.


Gowans, A. (1981). Learning to see: Historical perspective on modern popular/commercial arts. Popular Press.

Parrish, P. E. (2009). Aesthetic principles for instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 57(4), 511-528.

White, A. W. (2011). The elements of graphic design: space, unity, page architecture, and type. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc