Symbolism In The Gothic Art Movement

1815 words - 7 pages

The Gothic Art movement was not just a style of art but an extremely influential period containing its own complex history. The term is used to describe buildings and objects whose forms are based upon a range of characteristics from the middle of the 12th to the end of the 15th century. Gothic style was a development of the Romanesque yet it was Renaissance humanists who first used it as a disparaging term to describe what they saw as the barbaric architecture. With Gothic art being viewed through so many different perspectives it is deemed quite difficult to appropriately define what Gothic means in postmodern society today. It provided a new focus for the representation of nature and one major area within Gothic Art that distinguishes it from the ordinary is the symbolic elements used to create the art and in particular their infamous architecture. One of the greatest architectural landmarks known to Gothic art referred to as the Chartres Cathedral along some of the most exquisite sculptural & painted pieces in the world showed clearly the beauty and symbolism the Gothic Age had to offer the rest of the world.

Theologians and Historians pioneered two major approaches to the study of gothic art and architecture, the first being that Cathedrals were seen as products of progressive technology and functional engineering. The second approach to Gothic Art is a more mystical and literary system of classification, not of the masonry work but rather of the symbols that make up the meaning. The art and architecture of this period triggered the huge historical transformations that have contributed to the reshaping of culture and society today. The cathedrals along with their architectural components contain an immeasurable amount of symbolism with one of their main characteristics being height. Cathedrals were built to the highest point they could reach; to Christians this symbolised the closeness they shared with God. Because of the distinct design and size of the cathedrals, many adjustments had to be made to support the roofs including the introduction of a system of flying buttresses. Over the years a general reduction in weight and mass occurred, this was partly the result of enlarging the area of the windows made of stained glass. Huge stained glass windows and a profusion of smaller windows create the effect of lightness and space but also illustrate biblical stories and saint’s lives. Many people truly believed that the presence of these beautiful objects would lift their souls closer to God. It made the church a special, sacred place of an all-powerful God. In the Chartres cathedral, light often entering the church has been associated with the Virgin Mary whose life story winds around its walls. The beautifully decorated glass windows in the Chartres cathedral appear to feature Holy Scriptures that expel the wind and rain just like a traditional house window would. Their exquisite designs not only suggest that they prevent all things...

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