As an artistic movement, the concept of classicism can be applied to architecture, music, painting, sculpture and most aesthetic currents. From a historical point of view, there were two great classical periods: in Greece and ancient Rome and, on the other hand, in Europe during the 18th century.
The classical world of Greece and Rome
The Greco-Roman civilization represents the paradigm of Classicism. From a strictly artistic point of view, it was in sculpture and architecture that the main ideals of this movement were developed. Sculptors like Fidias and Miron, in the V century. a. C, created statues of gods and heroes of mythology that stand out in the harmony of movements and proportions. In architecture, the Parthenon of Athens dedicated to the goddess Athena is the epitome of classicism.
18th century Classicism
In the historical and cultural context of the Enlightenment , the creators were inspired by the models and aesthetic values of the classical world of Greece and Rome, as well as the desire for a reason that would eliminate any kind of obscurantism. Thus, in this period, music is presented in simple, elegant melodies with an orderly structure (Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn are among the three most significant representatives of this movement). Theater recovers tragedy, satire and Greco-Latin comedy through authors such as Molière and Racine.
The painting rescues Greek and Roman myths to convey a moral teaching on the technique that predominates symmetry (the Frenchman Jacques-Louis David, the Englishman Thomas Gainsborough and the Italian Annibale Carracci are three illustrious examples of Classicism in painting). Eighteenth-century architects reacted against the baroque aesthetic values and prioritized functionality and simplicity, two issues that were inspired by the rationalist approaches of the time.
The term Classicism in art history has several meanings
This concept can be understood in several ways:
1) in opposition to Romanticism ;
2) in relation to any aesthetic proposal inspired by the values of Greece and Rome;
3) to refer to the ideals of perfection in any artistic manifestation;
4) to refer to the traditional values of Western civilization.
Finally, when we use the term classicism, it is necessary to define what we are referring to.