The word “baroque” summons sounds of interweaving harpsichords, images of wrought iron, and an overall sense of elegance that spares no expense. Today, the word has taken on an alternate, more pejorative meaning—not simply of or relating to 17th-century European music and design, but anything unnecessarily complex and extravagant, from overly fussy graphic design to 1970s progressive rock albums.
But even as centuries have passed and detractors have gotten louder, appreciation of baroque art and design continues. Even as Scandinavian modernism seems unavoidable in interior design and trends in art tend toward minimalism, how is there still a market for the ornate, the lavishly elegant, the larger-than-life? In short, why is the baroque style still popular today? We’ll take a closer look—the only kind of look you can give anything so detailed.
Time-Honored European Beauty
Art and design always come from a time and place. In the case of baroque art, music, and architecture, that time and place are post-Renaissance Italy and France. You don’t have to be Italian or French yourself to appreciate this era of history. Baroque was, in many ways, a retort to the retort of the Protestant Reformation’s austerity. However, this style does maintain a deep cultural connection with many people, and it’s not hard to find space in the home to give that culture a nod. And it’s no longer prohibitively expensive to do so.
Easier Than Ever To Make and Buy
Achieving the intricacies of baroque artisanship used to take hours, days, or even weeks. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to widespread baroque appreciation was not a love for austerity but simply being unable to afford it. As time has marched on and mass production has become easier than ever, we can bring maximalist style into our homes. Picture frames, dinnerware, furniture, and light fixtures are all within price ranges they never would have fit into before. Today, even single-use flatware comes in baroque options, allowing party hosts and planners to bring a little taste of Versailles to any event.
An Antidote to 2021 Modernism
If you’ve spent any time on the internet lately, you’ve noticed a most unusual trend in graphic design. You don’t know its names, “Alegria” or “Corporate Memphis,” but you know it when you see it. Spaghetti-armed humanoids with turquoise or lavender skin are running rampant. While the flat textures, pastel colors, and curvilinear shapes make a pleasant visual bromide, the ubiquity of this simplified approach makes us scream out for the real human element in art again, and that may be part of why the baroque style is still popular today. “Baroque,” after all, is derived from a word for an irregular pearl. Beautiful imperfections are what makes life real. Good luck finding any of those in Adobe Illustrator.