Gothic art characteristics and architecture outstanding works

Gothic art

Artistic style that emerged in France in the mid-12th century. Gothic art characteristics and architecture

Gothic is an artistic style that emerged in Île-de-France (France) in the mid- 12th century. During the next three centuries, it spread throughout Europe, acquiring particular characteristics in each region.

It was a style highly valued by Romanticism and the historicist movements of the 19th century , when the Gothic forms re-emerged as the Neo-Gothic style.

The term “Gothic” was used for the first time by the Italian Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century to designate all medieval art. He called it that, assimilating it to an art of barbarians (Goths) since he considered it crude and decadent in comparison with the productions that followed the classical tradition and that in Renaissance Italy were considered as the maximum form of artistic expression.

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Gothic art characteristics

The main characteristics of Gothic art as an artistic style are:

  • The Gothic style arose from the reforms initiated by Abbot Suger in the basilica of Saint Denis , between the years 1140 and 1144. It responded to a philosophical trend known as “aesthetics of light” (or “theology of light”) that identified light as a manifestation of divinity.
  • It was an art linked to theological humanism that emerged at the end of the Middle Ages . This current developed a religious sensibility at the same time humanistic and spiritualist that considered that human beings were the most perfect work of Creation and sought to connect people with divinity in a more direct and natural way. Gothic art characteristics and architecture
  • Its strongest expression was architecture, especially the construction of cathedrals. Starting in the 14th century , the style spread to civil buildings, such as town halls and fish markets.
  • It was a style linked to urban development and the growing power of the kings and bishops characteristic of the late Middle Ages . The rise of the cities stimulated the construction of cathedrals that took the model of the Saint Denis basilica.
    • The cathedrals were constructions in which the entire community participated with financial contributions and work. They were considered the center of urban life and were an element of competition with other cities.
  • Other artistic disciplines, such as sculpture and painting, were subordinate to architecture, although towards the end of the period they began to become independent. Thus, the altarpieces and paintings on tables arose to replace the typical Romanesque mural painting and funerary sculpture developed , with the representation of the deceased in the tombs.
  • The visual conventions typical of Romanesque art began to be put aside. The artists sought the individualization of the characters and their interaction with each other . The representation of the clothing became more dynamic and elegant.
  • The iconography was renewed with the representation of human scenes, friendly characters and expression of feelings. In the representations, the relationship between Christ and his mother was also humanized.
  • Gothic painting in general was elegant and refined to meet the growing demand of the royal courts and an increasingly wealthy bourgeoisie . It developed different regional characteristics, thus the Florentine and Sienese schools emerged in Italy and that of the Burgundian court in France, among others.
  • The production of miniatures , that is, extraordinarily detailed and colorful illustrations in the manuscripts, was highlighted .

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Gothic architecture

The main characteristics of Gothic architecture are:

  • He wanted to bring the religious values of the period closer to the faithful . All the elements that made up the cathedral had a symbolic value in addition to its constructive function: the cross-shaped plan represented the body of Christ; the vertical lines, the path of ascension; the light, to God; etc.
  • New construction techniques emerged such as pointed or pointed arch, flying buttresses, buttresses with pinnacles and ribbed vaults that allowed the construction of high-rise, light and stylized buildings.
  • By not having a structural function in the building, the walls were no longer solid and were covered with windows . These were decorated with stained glass : narrative scenes made with colored glass that filtered an unreal-looking light into the building.
  • The facades gained relevance . In general they had a large rose window covered with stained glass and deep portals with complex narrative reliefs. Gothic art characteristics and architecture

Most outstanding works of Gothic art

The architectural works of Gothic art are very numerous since the style spread for 3 centuries. Some of them are:

Gothic artists

Most of the Gothic artists are anonymous. Some whose names have endured are as follows.

In architecture

Some of the Gothic artists in architecture were:

  • Peter Parler (1330 / 33-1399) : German architect, builder of St. Vitus Cathedral and Charles Bridge, in Prague.
  • Villard de Honnecourt (ca. 1200 – 1250) : participated in the construction of the cathedrals of Chartres, Laon and Lausanne among others.

In paint

Some of the Gothic artists in painting were:

  • Cimabue (1240-1302) : Italian painter and mosaicist.
  • Giotto di Bondone (ca. 1267-1337) : Florentine painter, muralist, sculptor and architect who was very influential in later generations. Gothic art characteristics and architecture
  • Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255 / 1260-1318 / 1319) : painter of the Sienese school.
  • Pietro (ca. 1280-1348) and Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1290-1348) : Italian painters of the Sienese school.

In sculpture

Some of the Gothic artists in sculpture were:

  • Claus Sluter (ca. 1350-1405 / 06) : main exponent of the Burgundian school.
  • Nicola Pisano (1215 / 20-1278/84) . Italian sculptor.
  • Giovanni Pisano (ca. 1250-1314) . Italian sculptor, architect and painter, son of Nicola.

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