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History of European Culture

Loyola also wrote a very influential book called Spiritual Exercises in which he recommended meditations in which the individual used his senses, imaginatively, to evoke such things as the smell and taste of Hell. The mystical experience of God was capable of being sensed, in small part, by the faculties of the body. For example, in Teresa of Avila's mystical visions sensory experience and mystical contemplation were combined.

The great zeal of the Jesuits, and others, in the renewal of Catholic faith inspired a new outpouring of art. In painting, Mannerist spatial complexity and artificiality of concepts replaced Renaissance order and decorum. Michelangelo's Last Judgment mural demonstrates the new interest in extreme states of emotion depicted through the contortions of the human body. Mannerist intensity was exemplified by El Greco's striking distortions of form, experiments in space and the use of dissonant color. A painting such as El Greco's The Agony in the Garden shows his complete re-working of the idea of pictorial space. Caravaggio and his follower Artemisia Gentileschi painted dark canvases with heroic biblical figures displayed in sharply focused light, like people lit on a stage.

Theatricality also marked the work of Gianlorenzo Bernini, whose dramatic, intense fountains and multimedia works


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