Question: Gothic Art and Scholasticism. Discuss the intellectual impetus for Gothic art.
Gothic art and scholasticism refers to the works of art that was initially created in France in 12th century. Later, these works spread out in Western Europe. Gothic period began in 12th and ended in the late 15th century. The period was dominated by various works of art. Moreover, this era was characterized by gothic aesthetic that was treated with great vitality. These forms of architectural styles involved application of scholasticism in medieval age. On the same, these arts reflected the highly esteemed religious intensity, pathos as well as self-intoxication that formed the major elements in medieval age. In fact, for a period of about 400 years, gothic style was a dominant structure and aesthetic mode throughout Europe.
In the Gothic age, scholasticism intelligence played a great role. It acted as an impetus to development of these works of art. Therefore, before analyzing the application of scholasticism and how this intelligence acted as an impetus in development of Gothic arts, it is important to consider some Gothic arts that were established during this era. Notably, despite the inception of gothic style in 1140, its use spread after a number generations in which the style was under experimentation. The major components of gothic structure are pointed arch and rib vaults. These components have also been used in the construction of Romanesque. Their use resulted into a powerful and continuous application in the field of architecture (Toman 56). Gothic structure is composed of lightness and soaring spaces where the overall effect is combined with innumerable subdivision which takes various forms. The formal significance of the gothic structure is high esteemed due to its magnificence.
Gothic structure was made of the following parts; firstly, gothic rib which of great important as it was placed above all to separate the skeletal web with the vaults. This made the structure strong. Gothic structures emphasized on heavy masses and areas that were clearly delimited. As earlier stated, lightness and soaring was highly emphasized especially in later development of the structure. Later, buttresses were introduced into the structure where they made it possible to reduce the wall surfaces (Robinson 41). The structure also contained great windows that were set into the walls. This was done to allow light through the vast expanses to stained glass. In addition, these windows have transparent structure with light curtains. High gothic structure that hosted the traditional basilica church composed of a central nerve that was separated by aisles that were mostly transparent. An ambulatory that composed a number of chapels was also developed surrounding the building. However, they were not considered as separate units. Therefore, all the units in gothic structure were unified and integrated to form one structure. The structure was dominated by two towers at its exterior. On the other hand, there were entrance portals that were decorated lavishly with sculptures. At the high level, there was a glass that was placed at the center and rose above the windows (Toman 21). There other additional towers that were placed above cross. The structure was also characterized by the transept that had two arms placed at the entrance and had a unique structure. Finally, there a combination of flying buttresses at the upper part as well as the edifice and pinnacles. The choir or the statuary also consisted of an important part of the cathedral. The choir was separated by a monumental screen that prevented the laymen from seeing the service.
Gothic art was also characterized by gothic sculptures. This sculpture had a stained glass that was formally and spiritually integrated within the gothic cathedral. It was used to express a theological program to the church. For instance, the Royal Portal of Chartres exemplified the early achievements in development of archivolts, jamb figures as well as tympanum among other sculptural scheme. Notably, jamb figures were used to signify the importance of the Christ on earth. These images of Christ emphasized the role of Christ in humanization and reveal his will. At the beginning of 13th century, other sculptures were developed such as that of virgin marry who was believed to be the mediator between God and humanity. This role is stressed in sculptural program of Laon, North Transept of Chartres as well as that of Notre Dame de Paris. During this era, figures took a great significance from their background and the religious meaning associated with them. Towards the end of 13th century, individual sculptures become more prominent although they were less related with the early architectures. Therefore, the tread towards the development of sculptures took a new course as the field became more independent. Throughout the 13th century, there were evident changes in mannerism and gesture development (Robinson 26). These changes also affected the stature of virgin marry and child of Amiens. In fact, the swaying posture of structures also affected meanings associated with various sculptures. In 14th century, most of great cathedrals had been completed. This ushered in a new era where sculptures were treated as independent forms (Gracia 79). On the same, mannerisms were exaggerated into elegant styles that were practiced up to 16th century. Realism also brought a tendency that was parallel with most of the structures.
French gothic structure spread across Europe and other continents. This is evident from the fact that Germany had some of the finest and individual structures although they owed their origin in France. Cathedrals in most parts of the world also adopted these styles such as Bamberg, Strasbourg, and Naumbourg cathedrals in Germany. On the other hand, Siena and Pistoia and of Lorenzo Maitani at Orvieto are some of the most impressive Gothic structures in France. Other Gothic arts include; the massive walls that have remained yielding tall skeletal structures. In fact, a major aspect in Gothic art was the stained glass and tapestry that assumed a vital role as it showed stylistic development in the entire structure. Another aspect of Gothic arts was the manuscript illumination. In this case, text and pictures were combined to form a united composition. Notably, illumination was only done in courts by lay schools. This made it possible for Paris school to achieve a perfection which was later used as a center for gothic painting for more than two centuries.
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Gothic art required a lot of intelligence that is referred to as scholasticism. It is a method of critical thinking which requires great teaching by the academics. This term was mainly used in medieval age in Western Europe. In scholasticism, one is required to apply his thought in coming up with a particular program through the method of articulating and defending that belief. In the Gothic age, scholasticism intelligence played a great role. As a result, Gothic art was a great impetus in intellectual development. As earlier stated, Gothic styles began in the end of 11th century and developed over a long period of time through experimentation until they took a major domain not only in Europe but also in other continents (Martindale 73). These structures have been used overtime in construction of cathedrals as well as sculptures. The intellectual development between 1150 and 1600 marked an era of great achievement in the field of art (Toman 120). Although this era was marked with unscientific innovations, great innovations were witnessed. Indeed, the intellectual development resulted into a fixed usage that acted as the scientific designation for later developments. In reality, there was great architectural growth that applied to the outgrowth of Gothic arts. At that time, people were able to develop solutions to the problems affecting them at that time as well as coming up with new ways of doing things. For instance, fundamental principles were employed by the Romanesque builders who worked to improve the condition of churches at that era.
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Gothic era was one of the great periods in history of human awakening. An immense progress was witnessed during this era as ideas were developed to see the church grow in magnificence as well as increase in understanding of religious symbols through sculptures. Moreover, this era also marked an awakening of the state as it became clearly defined with a common mind from scholars. Splendid cathedrals were established in addition to other profound achievement in the field of art. During the era, the state and the church were the only two institutions that were divinely appointed to govern men. Under this influence, the state and the church experienced rapid growth. In fact, most of the state in Western Europe was no longer hampered by monastic restrictions. Constructive knowledge continued to increase as service to laity increased. Masons and builders were carried from one diocese to another in order to share their expertise with other people. This was seen as wise divisions of labor as each man was required to participate in the construction process. In addition, able men were required to undergo training in construction something that played an important role in advancement of knowledge.
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Masters in building who included bishop and abbot were involved in planning and arranging the work to be done by the craftsmen (McGrade 120). These craftsmen were treated in terms of their fancy, their traditions of craft as well as specialties in their intellectual capacity. Therefore, division of labor was seen as an important component in development of knowledge related with Gothic art. Moreover, by allocating work to all participants, this scenario showed the need for the Gothic cathedrals of uniting people. It also gave room for makeshifts, discrepancies and alterations to certain designs in term of building structures. A powerful intellectual movement also arose during this era stimulated by translation of ancient authors from Greek to Arabic as well as to other languages. This highly influenced spread of knowledge to languages that people could understand (Robinson 20). Moreover, this intellectual movement also gave people a sense of common heritage especially in Western Europe. As a result developments and isolationism that had been witnessed in Western Europe gave way for a more cosmopolitan world.
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Gothic structure evolved at a time when there was profound economic and social change. During this era, Western Europe was experiencing trade and industrial growth. Commercialization brought increased communication between both neighbors and far-distant countries. This was possible because the merchants traded in various parts of the world interacting with each other. It is also evident that the Gothic style was more pronounced in urban cities. This is because of the fact that cathedral were situated in towns. These cathedrals and monasteries possessed many functions of the civic life. People congregated in churches on major festive days (Toman 45). During these days, churches were highly esteemed as they were not only for religious activities but also for performances. The architectural needs of the church were met during gothic era. They were expressed in both physical and iconographical terms. Gothic cathedral was adaptable as it could be made larger or smaller with or without the transepts or ambulatory (McGrade 284). As a result, it was able to meet the needs of the population. It also provided space for the laity who was not permitted to live in other places
In conclusion, Gothic art mark one of the major profound age in human history when great development were witnessed socially and economically. It changed the outlook and perception that people had about the church and other religious meaning. Churches were established into spending structures that saw the spread of Gothic style in various parts of the world. However, the waning of Gothic style and art was evident during the early stages of renaissance. This era saw Flemish styles artists and Franco-Flemish coming up with other styles that showed great interest in elegance and diffusion of various designs. Although Gothic spirit was still maintained by many scholars, most of the sculptures and churches took a new course. However, most of them were still rooted in the Gothic art. Nevertheless, effort was made in England in the bid to revive Gothic art. Nevertheless, the practice was overshadowed by literary theory and practice. However, most of cathedrals still showed the great intellectual development during the Gothic age.