We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Instead of turning up my nose at Baroque design, I decided to try to get into the heads of those who promulgated this heavily-ornamented style from around 1600 to 1750 in Europe.
Aside from some Italian kitsch, nobody has done new baroque for a long time. This remarkable book, Baroque: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, despite its abundance of photos, is not a coffee-table book. It is dense with text and scholarly detail, and 500 pages of small print which tests my eyes. There is no way I will complete this before I arrive in Vienna, but I will give it the old college try.
One idea which is coming through clearly is the notion of "the world as a stage." Baroque design is meant to be a stage set. It was meant to impress and/or intimidate and/or inspire - to convey power and wealth, but also to provide a grandiose setting for the highly formalized interactions and occasions of the high classes of the time. It does that, however fussy, overdone, and gratuitously gaudy it may look to a modern eye.
Another feature of Baroque design is that it moves. It has curves, details that jump out; interiors can be a "blooming, buzzing confusion" (the term William James used to describe his speculation about the experience of a human infant).
Versailles, St. Peter's Square (which is a circle), and the Hofberg Library are some classics of Baroque. Baroque is sensual, indulgent, extravagant, maybe grandiloquent. Like Bach. Bernini's 1650 Ecstasy of St. Theresa contains most of the elements of Baroque, especially the melding of sensual art with the grand architectural design:
Wiki explains how Baroque design has its roots in Mannerism, and how it was replaced, as a design fashion, by the aesthetic of Neoclassicism, which embraced restraint and cool "reason" as a reaction to a Baroque which had been taken to its limits.
We do not need to be enslaved to the aesthetic of our own time - or of any time. Baroque, however interesting, just isn't a Maggie's Farm, Yankee style. It's not in the blood.
Here's a Baroque era table, which I find both hideous and wonderful at the same time. It certainly moves, with those squigglies wiggling all over the inlay, and those sea slugs creeping up the legs:
Bird Dog ... I have always had a sneaky kind of admiration for baroque style. Mostly, I love, and have, Scandinavian modern style furniture, but I always thought it would be fun to have one small baroque bureau or table which would be over-the-top elaborate.
I always thought that Victorian era houses had a bit of the Baroque in them. I still recall the gingerbread that my father lopped off the Victorian section of our house. While it was an architectural loss, it definitely made painting easier. Here is an example of Victorian excess in Eureka California. Beautiful excess.
Bach's Baroque musical architecture has no equal. No one could do it like he did. Layer upon layer, juggling many musical spheres simultaneously but keeping them all in the air. Here is one of the more basic Bach pieces, as interpreted by the Swingle Singers back in 1968 : Bach's Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C major. PDQ Bach does a Phillip Glass interpretation of the same piece in Prelude to Einstein on the Fritz. Putting on the Fritz, putting on the Ritz? Saber.
If artists wanted to survive, back in the day of popes and kings' patronage of art, they knuckled under, to a certain extent. Only in today's irresponsible art market could a 'work of art' like "Piss Christ" survive.