The brilliant movement of the 12th centuty: Gothic art
“¿Quién no queda fascinado al contemplar las maravillosas catedrales góticas españolas como la de Toledo, Burgos, León, Sevilla, Palma de Mallorca o las extranjeras como Notre Dame (Francia), la de Colonia (Alemania), o la de Salesbury (Inglaterra)?” This quiestion is made by the historian professor Ricardo Murillo in the magazine “Entre colegas”. But, appart from been captivated by the Gothic Art, do we really know what is it about? By what type of art is influenced? Or, what are its features?
The Gothic Art is related to the Early Middle Ages, after the Romantic art. It is an European artistic style with a chronology that fluctuates approximately between 1140 and the last decades of the XVI century, depending on the place. It is considerated one of the most important moments from the artistic point of view. This art was used in architecture, paintings and sculptures. But, do you know the characteristics of this movement?
The term “gothic” was put on use by rich people from the Renaissance in a pejorative sense, to refer the Middle Ages art, what they considered inferior and barbarian.
Despite it is a continuation of the Romantic, in the Gothic there are many different and opposite attitudes. While the Romantic style is kown thanks to its darkness and meditation, the Gothic involves the opposite: light, colour, expressiveness and naturalism. But it has differences depending on the place where it is made. For example, there are many differences between the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Paris (from the French school) and the Cathedral of León, Spain (from the Spanish school). Appart from these schools (French and Spanish) there are others very important such as Portuguese or Italian school. Those schools created Gothic style in three main types of art: sculpture, painting and architecture.
The Gothic sculpture is characterized by the interest in nature. It still has the monumental and hug character of the romantic art but figures have more expressivity and they are more “humans”. These sculptures express more feelings such as happiness, sadness, pain… In the sculptures of this style portraits make a comeback. The exterior of the temples is progressively filled with decoration that, as has been said, is foccused on plants, humans and feellings.
What more radically changes in the Gothic style is the painting. It lose its “natural” place and it starts to be in stained glass windows. That explains the limited development of Gothic painting. There are three different phases in the gothic painting. The first one is the Lineal Gothic. This is the first phase and appears in the 1200 when the painting has an special attraction to the lines that defines the outlines. This type of gothig painting persist during all the 13th century and the early moments og the 14th century. The second one is the Italian Gothic. This is the next style and it is developed mostly in Sienna and Florence. In this style, the black line disappears. They want to inprove their technique, the study of space, the lineal perspective, the light and the degradation of colours. And the third is the International Gothic. This is the last phase and takes place in the 11th century. In that period the Italian influences were mixed with the French influences, giving rise to excellent results.
As has been said in ArteLista, “if there is anything that characterices the gothic spirit is the architecture“. Gothic architectures typical expression is the cathedral, where we find all the elements of this style. This type of architecture has three distinct characteristics which set it apart from Romanesque architecture:
- Pointed arches: The use of them was an important innovation. During the Gothic era, builders discovered that pointed arches would give structures amazing strength and stability. Before it, during the Romanesque, they were used but builders didn’t capitalize on the shape.
- Ribbed vault: Gothic builders introduced the echnique of ribbed vaulting. Firstly it was used the barrel vaulting (it carried weight on continuous solid walls) but in the Gothic era the ribbed started to be used (they used columns to support the weight)
- Flying buttresses. In order to prevent the outward collapse of the arches, Gothic architects began using this revolutionary system. Freestanding brick or stone supports were attached to the exterior walls by an arch or a half-arch.
- Isabel in “Geografía e historia”, Caracteres generales de la escultura Gótica. Published 2011.02.12. Retrieved 2011.11.26 http://geografiahistoriamontesorientales.blogspot.com/2011/02/caracteres-generales-de-la-escultura.html
- Jesús A. Manzaneque Casero in “Historia del arte”, La escultura gótica. Retreived 2011.11.27 http://almez.pntic.mec.es/~jmac0005/Bach_Arte/gotico/escultura_gotica1.htm
- Jesús A. Manzaneque Casero in “Historia del arte”, La pintura gótica. Retrieved 2011.11.27 http://almez.pntic.mec.es/~jmac0005/Bach_Arte/gotico/pintura_gotica1.htm
- La pintura gótica, características generales y la escuela de los primitivos flamencos. Retrieved 2011.11.27 http://www.alu.ua.es/l/lrr9/pintura_gotica.htm
- In “History Link 101”, Gothic Architecture Retrieved 2011.11.27 http://www.historylink101.com/lessons/art_history_lessons/ma/gothic_architecture.htm