Saturday, 17 March 2012

Cangiante - Definition

Michelangelo's - The Creation of Adam
From the Sistine Chapel Fresco cycle
Cangiante is one of the four canonical modes of Renaissance painting. The term is used to describe when a painter changes to a different lighter hue, when the original hue cannot be made to adapt and become light enough for what they are trying to achieve. On the converse of this a painter might change to a different darker hue, when the original hue cannot be made dark enough for the what they are attempting to achieve, stylistically speaking. (Read more after the Break)

This development in painting, came at a time when painters where presented with a limited colour palette and to create contrasts in light and shadow through grey and black colour tones would not always have resulted in the desired effect and instead would result in rendering the shadow colour dull. It has been argued that the artist's intention was to render shadows in more pure colours. An example of this would be changing from yellow to green, or yellow to red. In order to create the illusion of shadow, this was was done regardless of the objects actual colour - especially when in relation to how the object should have appeared in nature. This was done because the yellow could not be made dark enough to render a shadow, so it was blended with for example with red and green to achieve the desired outcome.

Derived from the Italian cangiare, meaning 'to change'. Key practitioner of this canonical mode was Michelangelo.

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