Sunday, January 9, 2011

Routes of Gothic

Generalitat de Catalunya
Government of Catalonia
Ministry of Innovation,
Universities and Enterprise

Gothic was the predominant style in Europe, during the 13-15th C. It succeeded Romanesque art and preceded the golden age of the Renaissance. It is thought to have originated in the Île-de-France and was know as opus francigenum till Vasari gave it the name which has endured. It evolved from the first Cistercian monasteries and the basilica of Saint-Denis (1144), to the great fully Gothic Cathedrals (Chartres, Reims, Cologne, Lyon, etc.) and to the typically English perpendicular, flamboyant style. One of its characteristics is the structural development of the pointed arch. Another is the ribbed vault, which made it possible to build increasingly complex and lofty buildings. Gothic architecture is much richer than Romanesque in plastic and expressive resources. Its interest lies, not only in its architectural innovations —buttresses and flying buttresses, fascicled pillars, pinnacles, gables, spires, rose windows, etc.— but also in its new conception of space. Gothic art emerged at a time when royal power was being consolidated and feudal bonds were loosening. This led to the appearance of a specifically urban social class, the bourgeoisie, and to the development of governmental and administrative institutions such as parliaments, city councils, guilds and other professional bodies. As a result, cities grew and trade flourished, both factors being decisive in the evolution of Gothic art. It was an age of new forms of religious devotion, introduced by the mendicant orders, of scholastic philosophy and of great encyclopaedic compendiums; of the founding of universities and the development of urban culture which was to give rise to humanism; of the works of Dante and Ramon Llull; of the cultural world of the court and chivalry; of the poetry of troubadours and of Ars Nova in music.
Thus it was the cities which provided the environment conducive to the development of Gothic art and, while cathedrals are the archetype of the style, it produced equally representative royal palaces, castles and mansions, as well as buildings to house institutions (hospitals, trade exchanges), bridges, city walls and even city planning. Initially the plastic arts were closely linked to architecture (sculptures to decorate the great façades, wall paintings, etc.). Soon, however, the quest began for individualizaed expression and refinement, as is apparent in painted and sculpted altarpieces, tombs, religious statues, choir stalls, gold and silverware, etc., many of which may still be admired in the great museums.

Burgos Cathedral, Burgos, Spain,image by Beyond Forgetting

Gothic Church, Vienna,photo by GothPhil

Some articles about Spain:

Toward Low Carbon Cities: Madrid and London

skyline photos of Madrid 1

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