Neo Classicism Enlightenment – Treatment of Classic Themes in Modern Style

Neoclassicism is a unique movement in the decorative, literature, classical arts and theatre that originated in the middle of the 18th century. Ancient Greek and Roman culture draw upon the Western classical arts and culture during this era.

Neo classicism artists do not make dreary reproductions of their creations- be it arts, sculpture or poetry but makes something new and innovative every time. This ensures a high standard. However a neo classical artist runs more chance in churning out mediocre and innocuous stuff in his over enthusiasm to be different. More than just creating something entirely new, neoclassicism is a natural expression of a culture with all its elements and the finesse with which an artist regains the lost elements that might have slipped into the oblivion is what makes a neo classic artist successful and popular.

Neoclassicism has thrown open countless possibilities in interior designing, inspired by the rediscoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum, dating back to the 1740s. Intelligent and sensuous application of these styles has resulted in the creation of some of the most enchanting interiors in the Baroque style. The Roman styled rooms of William Kent were actually based on the classic basilica and temple exterior architecture, which was given a different treatment.

Pastel colored motifs, sculpted in low relief or monotone paintings, suspended ribbons and vases were all used lavishly in neo classic creations. In the 1800s a theme of etchings and engravings in Greek architectural examples, set off a trend called the Greek revival.

Neoclassicism started in England and France and was quickly accepted by the artists of Rome and Sweden. A second, more prominent neoclassic wave came into being during Napoleonic Empire, which stood out for spectacular engravings. In France, the first spell of neoclassicism is often called the “Louis XVI style”, where as the second phase is referred to as “Directoire” or Empire. Italy stuck to the Rococo style until the Napoleonic regimes infused new archaeological classicism, which became a strong political for the young urbanites with republican leanings in Italy.

At the end of the world wars, a neo classic movement in the Arts came into being. This movement which shunned romanticism was noted for its religious (especially Christianity) themes, the foundation of which was laid by T. E. Hulme in English literature. Some of the most popular neo classicists in English included T. S. Eliot and Wyndham Lewis among others.