In the American Renaissance, Renaissance ornamentation is mixed with themes inspired by the indigenous decorative agenda. There are two main centers: Mexico and Peru. In both, the religious orders will be the ones who will introduce the Renaissance forms and, at the same time, who will create in Mexico an original type of construction: the church preceded by a huge atrium, for catechesis, with a chapel open to it, given the material impossibility of that all the Indians enter the church; in the atrium was the “posa”, a kind of humble place for teaching. Some churches have a walkway for their defense, such as Tepeaca, with two walkways.
The main examples of these convents in Mexico are those of Teposcolula, with a magnificent open chapel; Cholula, Huejotzingo, San Agustín Acolmán, with a magnificent Plateresque façade, which has its echo in Yuririapúndaro, and that of Actopán, among others. Among the civil constructions, the most important building is the Hernán Cortés palace in Cuernavaca and the magnificent facade of the Montejo house in Mérida de Yucatán.
In the second half of the century, the great cathedrals were built, like the one in Mexico, following its model in the Puebla cathedral. The one in Guadalajara is inspired by the Granada model of Diego de Siloé and the one in Pétzcuaro (Michoacán) presented a very original plant based on a pentagon. The cathedrals of Mérida and Oaxaca are also from this period.
In Peru, the Mudejar influence is evident on the roofs, due to the use of Mudejar-type alfarjes, mainly due to the frequency of earthquakes, which have destroyed most of the buildings from this period. The cathedrals of Lima and Cuzco are characteristic of the second half of the century, in which Francisco Becerra, who had previously worked in Puebla (Mexico) and Quito, intervened.
The historical setting
Discovery, exploration, conquest and colonization of the American lands under the reign of the Catholic Monarchs (1474-1517), Emperor Carlos V (1517-1556) and Felipe II (1556-1598).
In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs end the Reconquest against the Arabs, which began shortly after the Arab invasion of the Peninsula in 711. The spiritual potential, the result of the euphoria of unity recovered by Spain, moves to America. With Carlos V, the House of Austria, the Habsburg dynasty, entered Spain (Carlos V is the son of Juana la Loca, daughter of the Catholic Monarchs, and Felipe el Hermoso, son of Emperor Maximilian I of Austria.
Carlos V wants to realize the imperial idea of a unified Europe under the Christian-Hispanic sign. His son Felipe II, the builder of the El Escorial monastery, near Madrid, will try to close the Pieineos to prevent any influence from the Protestant Reformation; with this it inaugurates the “National Period” in which Spain retreats into itself and tries to preserve the overseas empire (the one on whose lands “the sun did not set”, in the words of Charles V). The Spanish imperial power is broken.
The first Renaissance. The literature of these years is usually considered as a first Renaissance and is characterized by the importation of forms and ideas from Italy. Pathfinders and missionaries take them to the New World. They were even writers to America.
The first writers in America follow the lines that dominate in Spain. There were Erasmian writers, but what was produced in the first stage of colonization offers a medieval aspect. The books that circulated were mostly ecclesiastical and educational. But the genres, of medieval appearance, are those that acquire creative force with contact with the new reality: the chronicle, which we have already seen, and the missionary theater. The ideas that are imported are those of Erasmian humanism.
American Renaissance Art
American Renaissance Art is an artistic style that includes painting, sculpture and architecture that emerged in Europe around the year 1400; specifically in Italy. American Renaissance Art was one of the main exponents of the European Renaissance. At this stage, artists who still have renown, such as Boticelli, Giotto and van der Weyden, began to be recognized.
The movement was based primarily on a combination of medieval aspects of the time and modern ideas that began to emerge in the early 15th century.
General characteristics of American Renaissance Art
Influence of Greek art
This occurred after Italian artists of the time studied Greek texts, works, and art to use as inspiration for their creations. The one who influenced this change in the perception of art was Petrarca, a famous Italian artist of the 14th century.
This gave rise to a movement that was not only based on the adaptation of human culture to a post-medieval era, but also adhered to the traditional principles of ancient works that marked a before and after in art.
Most of the art produced in the Renaissance was inspired by the philosophical belief of humanism. By itself, humanism had already played an important role in achieving countless achievements in ancient Greece, such as the emergence of democratic ideas in politics.
This belief helped artists to put aside the religious influence that was usually embodied in the works of the time.
Humanism also caused more attention to be paid to the details of people’s features in the painting.
The works of the Renaissance were focused on the humanistic belief that correct actions were the key to happiness, but the religious influence that this concept could have was left aside.
During the 15th century a number of renowned Dutch painters developed improvements to the way oil painting was created. During the Renaissance period, Italian artists used new Dutch techniques to improve their paintings.
This phenomenon had effects on the quality and duration of artistic works, in addition to having brought significant changes to painting on a world scale.
In addition, the Renaissance occurred in large part thanks to the presence of brilliant Italian characters. Many of these came to be considered the best of all time in terms of influence, such as Piero della Francesca and Donatello.
The Renaissance was enhanced by the new capacity of the regions to trade with their own natural assets.
In other words, each region developed an export trading system that made its wealth increase significantly.
The reunion of classical texts
One of the main influences on Renaissance literature was the reappearance of medieval texts that had been lost in the Dark Ages of humanity.
The literary people who studied these texts used their influences to improve their works and give an antique touch to the movement, which by then was contemporary.
Influence of Christianity
Although the works created during the Renaissance period were not tied to the criticisms of the Catholic Church, the Christian religion served as a positive influence for several of the exponents of this cultural movement.
Among them was Erasmus, the Dutch literary man, who used Christianity in the first four centuries as an inspiration for his works.
American Renaissance Architecture
It is that produced during the artistic period of the European Renaissance, which spanned the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It is characterized by being a moment of rupture in the History of Architecture, especially with respect to the previous architectural style: The Gothic.
General foundations of the American Renaissance Architecture
The School of Athens, by Rafael Sanzio is a work that serves as an example of the relationship between the Renaissance and Humanism and Classicism. Main article: Renaissance
The American Renaissance Architecture was closely related to a vision of the world during that period supported by two essential pillars: Classicism and humanism.
It should be noted that the American Renaissance Architecture ideals and values could not arise totally unrelated to the medieval heritage that preceded it, however, the concepts that underlie this architectural style were built on the conscious and effective rupture of the artistic production of the Middle Ages, in Gothic style special.
General characteristics of American Renaissance Architecture
We can analyze the following general characteristics:
Search for the classical ideal: Through classicism, the men of the Renaissance looked towards the Greco-Roman world as a model for their contemporary society, seeking to apply in everyday material reality what they considered to belong to a world more idyllic than real. In this sense, Architecture, in particular, tried to specify classical concepts such as beauty, thus arising the theorization and ordering of the movement, based on classical Greek and Roman architecture. According to the Renaissance theorists this was the ideal way to reach the ideal world.
Profane vision on religious subjects: The classical values, from the point of view of Christianity, of enormous influence in this period (taking into account that the Renaissance arises in Italy, where the presence of the Catholic Church was decisive for Art), were considered pagan and sinful in character. To overcome this censorship of the Catholic Church, the vision of the Christian world was integrated with the project of recovery of classical ideals, through desacralized scenes and buildings made to the measure of man. This was another of the movement’s innovations.
Influence of nature: Nature was seen as the supreme creation of the work of God and the closest element to perfection (another of the ideals that had to be sought through classical aesthetics). Thus, one goes from the search for inspiration in nature, to inspiration in the forms of nature itself, as proposed by the classics, turning this into an autonomous value.
Anthropocentrism and humanism: In addition to nature as a perfect creation, the gaze turns to the human being: medieval theocentrism is left behind to enter anthropocentrism. Man is analyzed, instead of as being created in the image and likeness of God, as a measure and reference of the Universe. Thus, it will be the central object of the artistic manifestation, with an even greater importance than during classical antiquity. Humanism, as a philosophical current, manifested itself as a sentiment committed to the representation of man in the Universe, thus reaffirming his presence. Humanist philosophy advocated the study of nature as an instrument to reach knowledge, more of the Universe as a whole, than of singular things.