Hard as it may be to believe, medieval art has become one of the most “memable” types of art on the internet. Yes, you have read it correctly: artworks that were created hardly in the most pleasant and joyful times of art history are nowadays considered to be kind of funny. Of course, it is all matter of interpretation, but some people might start thinking that the artists back then had a great time creating such hilarious paintings. Well, the reality is not as merry as we want it to be. Let’s take a closer look at medieval times in the context of art.
Medieval Art: The Period That Wasn’t Meant to Become Funny
To understand art created in the Middle Ages, you need to put things into the context of that time. The medieval period was also called Dark Ages for a reason. Back then, society was not as advanced as today, with the majority of people lacking cultural and scientific upbringing. That is why artists of that period mainly focused on their personal perceptions of the world. In other words, they painted what they felt to be relevant rather than what was considered objective. This is why you see so many weird things in medieval art: disproportionate and flat people, animals with human faces, and many weird situations. And that was also the influence of religion on art.
Analyzing the visual language of medieval art is the whole challenge because artists attempted to reveal religious themes without proper painting techniques. As a result, we got a lot of works that people couldn’t interpret properly and thus created a new understanding of what was going on in the pictures. That’s how memes emerged. A chasm between a real world and an idealized Christian reality in a “slightly” unrealistic tone made the art of the period look like a hell of a fever dream. And nothing stopped people from making tons of memes about cats, horses, and bollocks that you can sometimes see in the paintings from the Middle Ages.
Right now, you might think that medieval art is not worth paying attention to, but you will be wrong. A big chunk of what was created back then was a powerful transition from one period to another. Let us not forget the medieval artists who changed the world of art and made it look special. Those include Nicola Pisano, Giotto di Bondone, Andre Beauneveu, Pisanello, Jean Fouquet, and Andrei Rublev.