"Renaissance humanism" is the name later given to a tradition of cultural and educational reform engaged in by chancellors, book collectors, educators, and writers, who by the late fifteenth century began to be referred to as umanisti. This new idea, humanitas, meant the development of human virtue, in all its forms, to its fullest extent. The term thus implied not only such qualities as are associated with the modern word humanity; understanding, benevolence, compassion, mercy, but also such more assertive characteristics as fortitude, judgment, prudence, eloquence, and even love of honour. Consequently, the possessor of humanitas could not be merely a desk-bound isolated philosopher but was of necessity a participant in active life. Humanitas called for a fine balance of action and contemplation.
Humanitas developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of scholastic university education, which was then dominated by Aristotelian philosophy and logic. Scholasticism focused on preparing men to be doctors, lawyers or professional theologians, and was taught from approved textbooks in logic, natural philosophy, medicine, law and theology.
Humanists reacted against this utilitarian approach and the narrow pedantry associated with it. They sought to create a citizenry (frequently including women) able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity and thus capable of engaging the civic life of their communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions.
It is impossible to speak knowledgeably about Renaissance science without first understanding the Renaissance concept of art. The Latin word ars was applied indiscriminately to the verbal disciplines, mathematics, music, and science, as well as to painting, sculpture, and architecture but could also refer to technological expertise, to magic, and to alchemy. Any discipline involving the cultivation of skill and excellence was de facto an art. If one concept may be said to have integrated all the varied manifestations of Renaissance culture and given organic unity to the period, it was this definition of art as power.
With this definition in mind, one may understand why Renaissance humanists and painters assigned themselves such self-consciously heroic roles: in their artistic ability to delight, to captivate, to convince, they saw themselves as enfranchised directors and re-makers of culture. One may also understand why a humanist-artist-scientist such as Alberti would have seen no real distinction between the various disciplines he practiced.
The humanist ideas blossomed for hundreds of years but weak in dialectic or any other comprehensively analytic method, the movement had no instrument for self-examination, no medium for self-renewal. Neither had humanism any valid means of defence against the attackers—scientists, fundamentalists, materialists, and others.
As a flirt to the renaissance humanists JENNY GRETTVE STUDIO tries to study a wider perspective of fields in order to create a program suited for a kind and wise future. We see a need for compassion and wish to inspire and seek great collaborations for discovering, interpreting and delivering design to change our perception of life.
JENNY GRETTVE STUDIO is run by architect Jenny Grettve who also completed degrees in fashion, art, furniture design and classical music before launching her own international multi disciplinary office with base in Sweden.