Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "If we object to his restraint and compression we are simply objecting to the classicism of classic art. A violent emphasis or a sudden acceleration of rhythmic movement would have destroyed those qualities of balance and completeness through which it retained until the present century its position of authority in the restricted repertoire of visual images." Classicism, as Clark noted, implies a canon of widely accepted ideal forms, whether in the Western canon that he was examining in The Nude (1956), or the Chinese classics.
Classicism is a force which is often present in post-medieval European and European influenced traditions; however, some periods felt themselves more connected to the classical ideals than others, particularly the Age of Enlightenment, and some classicizing movements in Modernism
Classical art encompasses antiquity and later works inspired by it, the latter normally referred to as Neoclassical. Adherence to traditional aesthetic formalities was favored over expressionism and individuality. Classic art is distinguished by clarity, order, balance, unity, symmetry and dignity.
The first major classic revival occurred during the Renaissance period in Italy. In the 18th century, the Neoclassical movement was established following the archaeological discovery of ancient ruins at Herculaneum and Pompeii. The styl leading artists included Michelangelo, Raphael, Correggio, and Mantegna during the Renaissance and Mengs and Winckelman during the Neoclassical period.