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Botticelli's experience was indicative of the tension all Renaissance artists felt between traditional values, represented by the Church, and the progressive (and simultaneously antiquarian) nature of Renaissance art. Botticelli was fascinated by the ideology of Neoplatonism, which sought to blend the teachings and traditions of Plato with the teachings of Christianity. Art historians claim that The Birth of Venus is a clear example of applied Neoplatonism. It has been described as "an allegory of the innocence and truth of the human soul naked to the winds of passion and about to be clothed in the robe of reason." Like Botticelli, the artistic community often attempted to align its ideals of learning, reason, and self-expression with religious dogma. Yet as can be seen in the example of Botticelli, the alignment was not easy: the two ways of thought often seemed antithetical and irreconcilable. The constant desire to conform to the doctrines of the Church, along with the persistence of religious themes in Renaissance art, is a testament to the continuing importance of the Church in Renaissance culture.
Despite the similarities to medieval art surrounding subject matter, there can be no doubt that that Renaissance artists broke the static mold of medieval art. What is most remarkable about the art of the Renaissance is the constant evolution of techniques and materials, with each generation of artists building upon the accomplishments of the last. While technique, style, and materials stayed relatively constant throughout much of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance was a period of rapid change and development. Giotto was the first Renaissance artist to dabble in the techniques of perspective. His methods and ideas changed the face of art significantly, but no sooner had they been studied and absorbed by the artistic community than Masaccio and others built upon and improved the techniques. Similarly, Ghiberti and Brunelleschi pushed each other through competition to new artistic heights. Donatello studied under each of the older masters and incorporated the developments they contributed to the art form with his own talents and ideas, producing the most admired works of the era. This rapid evolution and the continuing advance of artistic techniques and talent was one of the primary characteristics of the Renaissance.
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