For Renaissance Italians, great art was primarily about disegno,
or drawing—but not just the process of drafting in itself. Disegno
encompassed the intellectual aspect of an artwork in conjunction with
technique. This shift in focus raised the status of the visual arts,
which had been until that time considered a trade, to that of
literature and music. Disegno became the standard that all great works
of art, whether sculpture, painting, or architecture, had in common.
The way to achieve disegno was, however, through
drawing, because it provided the foundation on which an artist built a
finished work. Becoming an artist known for strong disegno
(Michelangelo would have been the team captain) meant starting by
drawing from life, then going on to create drawings of Greek and Roman
sculptures with an eye toward mastering complex multifigure
compositions such as that of the Laocoön.
17 Sep 2013