Feature image: Martín Bernetti Vera, "La Última Frontera,”(The Last Frontier) posted by u/cubesato via Reddit.
When scrolling through Reddit, you can quickly lose track of time as you delve into diverse communities and enthralling discussions. Reddit may be an unexpected venue for art history enthusiasts, but numerous subreddits are dedicated to the art world. One of the most popular art forums is r/AccidentalRenaissance. This community stands devoted to sharing characteristics of Renaissance art that appear in contemporary life.
However, according to the subreddit’s description, “Renaissance” is a general term for the photos shared on the forum. The forum celebrates photography that unintentionally resembles paintings from the various artistic movements between the 14th and 19th centuries, including Baroque, Neo-Classicism, and Romanticism. The “accidental” aspect of the subreddit suggests that these images capture a moment in modern life that mirrors the composition, lighting, and mood of Renaissance artwork. The juxtaposition of contemporary scenes with Renaissance qualities highlights the enduring appeal of art history. It encourages users to notice and capture moments of accidental artistry in their surroundings, fostering an appreciation for the unexpected beauty in mundane situations.
Saw this dope photo taken by Tony Dejak of @KingJames falling into the seats and it looked like some sort of renaissance composition, I wanted to bring that to light :) 👑 23 pic.twitter.com/7svscmqEzg— BossLogic (@Bosslogic) December 17, 2017
r/AccidentalRenaissance commits to explaining and educating others about the characteristics of Renaissance art and distinguishes it from other periods in art history. As many users point out, the art of the Renaissance is concerned with the eternal. In contrast, Baroque art (as many images on the subreddit feature) captures a singular moment. Although the subreddit features many artistic movements, there are guidelines for specific visual techniques permitted by the moderators for an image to be considered accidentally Renaissance.
The Fibonacci Sequence or the Fibonacci Spiral is often placed over the images in the subreddit to highlight their accidental mathematical proportions. This sequence is used to balance the features of the image into thirds rather than strictly centering them.
The Golden Ratio, also called the Divine Proportion, is a special number that appears in aesthetics, geometry, and architecture as a tool to create harmonious symmetry in a work.
Sfumato is an oil painting technique that was popular during the Italian Renaissance. It translates to “smoke” and refers to the technique in which colors are blended and blurred subtly to melt together without edges or transitions. Interestingly, photographers can capture this technique and its ethereal ambiance.
Chiaroscuro uses strong contrasts between lightness and darkness in a composition. It is created by light falling unevenly on the subjects.
u/Fleece_white_as_snow “Woman sits by the window of a Lviv-bound train”
This photograph was originally published in the Associated Press. It is a highly emotional and ethereal photo of a Ukranian woman and her Yorkshire terrier leaning against a train window as they leave home due to Russian bombings. While Neoclassical-style clothing drapes the subject, she also wears a hyper-emotional pose. The blurred and muted composition, matched with tinted and grainy elements, deem the photograph nearly indistinguishable from a painting. The scratches on the train window resemble delicate brushstrokes. Additionally, the train colors are blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. This image is a prime example of classic art styles transposed into modern scenarios.
[deleted user] “The Selfie” (From BBC, Photograph by Jes Azner)
BBC originally published this photograph accompanied by a description that reads, “On the outskirts of Marawi, Philippines, bride Katty Malang Mikunug takes a selfie with friends. The city has been partly held by fighters linked to so-called Islamic State (IS) since an attack in May.” The blurring of the women’s dresses resembles a Vermeer painting or a piece from the Dutch Golden Age. The image evokes drama and elegance. If you removed the iPhone taking the selfie, it would look like a masterpiece hanging in a museum, a moment of celebration and beauty amongst chaos.
u/RavioliStiegl “The Tattoo”
This photograph shows a man in a window getting a tattoo. He is bent over a table smoking a cigar while a woman tattoos his chest. The plants growing outside the window frame the subjects. The expression on the man’s face is relaxed yet emotive. His muscles and body type evoke Renaissance musculature and aesthetics, resembling a Caravaggio or Gentileschi with its subject and expressions. One user took it upon themselves to edit the photo into a museum surrounded by shadowy viewers.
The original poster wrote, “My partner is a tattoo artist and was giving their brother a tattoo. I was flying my drone at the same time and decided to check in on them and see how they were doing. They didn't notice the drone in the window, so I took the picture to show them later. As soon as I saw the picture, I thought of this sub. Not an accidental capture but absolutely accidental renaissance."
u/GallowBob “King James falling into the seats looked like some sort of Renaissance composition” (credit to BossLogic)
LeBron James collapses into the seats of an arena after playing a game, surrounded by people who offer him high fives and take his photo. The image is interestingly symmetrical and triangular. Many compare him to a medieval or Renaissance king throughout the post. Bodies are wrapped around LeBron as he appears exhausted and relaxed. This image is a perfect example of the timeless adoration we hold for people, whether they are the king of a medieval court or a basketball court.
Digital artist BossLogic translated the image into a piece depicting LeBron James as a royal. He is surrounded by loyal subjects who hand him goblets of wine as he celebrates a victory.
Throughout the subreddit, there are consistent arguments over what images should and should not be allowed on the forum. This particular discourse led to the gradual expansion of the subreddit to include other art movements as flairs or separate subreddits, such as r/AccidentalImpressionism and r/AccidentalBaroque. However, one point stands true: we find ourselves reflected in art. We can see trends in our modern society connected to the subjects of centuries-old art. The subreddit also provides resources and education on art history, expanding accessibility to Renaissance art.
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