April 5, 2007 8:11pm CST
In the arts, Baroque is both a period and the style that dominated it. The Baroque style used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, oil painting, literature, and music. The style started around 1600 in Rome, Italy and spread to most of Europe. In music, the Baroque applies to the final period of dominance of imitative counterpoint, where different voices and instruments echo each other but at different pitches, sometimes inverting the echo, and even reversing thematic material. The popularity and success of the "Baroque" was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church which had decided at the time of the Council of Trent that the arts should communicate religious themes in direct and emotional involvement. The aristocracy also saw the dramatic style of Baroque architecture and art as a means of impressing visitors and expressing triumphant power and control. Baroque palaces are built around an entrance sequence of courts, anterooms, grand staircases, and reception rooms of sequentially increasing magnificence. In similar profusions of detail, art, music, architecture, and literature inspired each other in the "Baroque" cultural movement as artists explored what they could create from repeated and varied patterns.
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6 Apr 07
Baroque architecture and art also flourished in Ecuador. I first came in contact with the Baroque Style when I lived in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador which was founded in the 16th century on the ruins of an Inca city, at an altitude of 2,850 m, the city has, despite the 1917 earthquake, the best preserved and least modified historic centre in Latin America. The monasteries of San Francisco and Santo Domingo, and the Church and the Jesuit College of La Compania with their rich interior decorations are pure examples of the "Baroque School of Quito" which is a fusion of Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art. "Photograhs of these churches do not do them justice. They must be view by the naked eye to see their absolute brillance. Whenever I attended mass in any of them I was overcome with awe at the sight of such lavish gold leaf decorations. It used to irk me to think that the construction and interior decoration was mainly done and paid for by the poor Indian peasants.