Why was Gothic art created


Godship with a circular stroke out of the chaos the world.

from a manuscript from the middle of the 13th century.


term Gothic (French "art gothique"), style of high and late medieval art. The name is based on the view of the Italian Renaissance theorists (Vasari) that the Goths, who destroyed the ancient culture of Italy during the Great Migration, were the originators of medieval art, which was perceived as strange and barbaric. Only with the growing bourgeois national consciousness in England, France and Germany (neo-Gothic) did the judgment that had hitherto been derogatory changed in the 18th and early 19th centuries, whereby in the 18th century "Gothic" was used both positively and negatively. and around 1820 led to a more precise definition of the term Gothic and its application to art (initially only architecture and ornamentation) between Romanesque and Renaissance.
Origin and Spread The country of origin of the Gothic is France, especially the Île-de-France; here it originated in the middle of the 12th century. and over the course of a century it was recorded in western and central Europe, east to the Baltic coastal cities and Hungary, and spread by the Crusaders to Palestine and Cyprus. After a hesitant beginning, it became established in Germany around 1230. It ended in Italy in the beginning to the middle of the 15th century, in the other countries in the 1st half of the 16th century. In general, a distinction is made between early and high Gothic and the late Gothic, which can be clearly distinguished from them between 1300 and 50, such as the Italian Renaissance part of the complicated processes in the late Middle Ages and the beginning of the transition to the early modern period, and a post-Gothic in the 16th century. or at the beginning of the 17th century.
social conditions Gothic is the result and medium of complex socio-economic, political, ecclesiastical-religious and cultural-spiritual processes within feudalism as a socio-economic social formation. The beginning and climax of the Gothic are tied to the developed feudal society of the High Middle Ages: with its full implementation of the feudal production relations through commodity and money management and trade, with the consolidation of the urban bourgeoisie and the cities as a new social, political and cultural force, with a generally more condensed one Communication (promoted by distance trading); in Western Europe (especially France) linked to the endeavor of the kingship to overcome feudal fragmentation in centralized monarchies. In this respect, the genesis and reception of the Gothic are an active factor in a historical process that is generally determined by the departure, advancement, development and dynamization of social conditions. These do not take shape without conflict, but rather under the particular constellations and relationships of the social groups, as struggle and cooperation or in dealing with widespread heresies. Growing practical and intellectual mobility of people ("city air makes you free") corresponds contradictingly with the consolidation of integration into a higher-ranking (class, territorial, national) context. The spread of a rationalism, particularly favored by the life activities and ideology of the urban bourgeoisie, which was articulated in different ways in theological and philosophical thinking (scholasticism: nominalism-realism dispute, etc.) will have consequences.Culture This goes hand in hand with an increase in visualization and sensualization of this-worldly elements in culture, which changes sacred art in a longer process and strengthens the importance of the profane area in artistic culture, while also giving more space to civic needs in addition to court interests. A new level of increased use of subjective sensations and emotional forces breaks through, among other things, in various mystical movements. Church reform movements react to these processes, seek to channel them and take part in certain features of art (Cistercians, mendicant orders). The latter in particular gained importance for the urban culture of the time. In general, one can assume a progressive urbanization of the art relations as a basic feature within the Gothic. Art production The Bauhütte, first built on the great French cathedral buildings, replaces monastic building associations, the position and rank of the architect change. The artists begin to organize themselves in municipal workshops and guilds or, as court artists, try to secure their work particularly in relation to the cities. Eventually, stonemason guilds also begin to compete with the builders' huts. As on the side of the art producers, the basis of artistic creation is broadened and differentiated on the side of the client. In addition to the ecclesiastical and aristocratic mandate, the city-bourgeois mandate comes as a mandate from the commune, the corporations, and finally as a private foundation. In this process of an upswing especially in the 12th / 13th Century (...) the technical possibilities of the arts are also expanded, particularly clearly in the emergence of serial prefabrication on the large construction sites of the French Gothic cathedrals, which become centers of technical and aesthetic innovations. New building tasks (including through urban functions) and types of images are being developed, and art production is also significantly multiplied in quantitative terms. Stylistic devices In spite of the astonishingly great stylistic uniformity in large parts of Europe, increasing differences, e.g. T. plurality, not to be overlooked. Rather, future research should ask more precisely which and whose political, religious, aesthetic interests and considerations led to the respective reception, to certain traditional decisions or innovations within the Gothic style system, which led to certain changes: that Gothic, like every other style, was conscious design is related to certain construction and image tasks, functions, handling of stylistic devices. Prepared in the Romanesque, from which the Gothic starts and surpasses it, the Gothic is characterized by a fascinating variety of stylistic devices and formal qualities. The great importance of the vertical, slim, fine, flexible respond to counter-currents of the horizontal accent, the stocky, blocky-rough. The tendency towards the frequent repetition of isomorphic elements, especially in buildings (services, capitals, pinnacles, crabs, folds of robes) correspond to elements of order of subordination, gradation or the gradual transition, but also (religious, economic or otherwise justified) abstinence from excessive ornamentation. In addition, there is and must be taken into account with generalizations: Architects and artists (like clients) knew how to differentiate between tasks, components and functions. Shapes have been used deliberately to classify parts of the room in cathedrals or mendicant churches according to their rank. Sacred architecture In architecture, the sacred building remained the most important task, in the process of urbanization even the demands on it, on the position of the churches in and towards the city (symbolic meaning of the towers, generally the height dimension, functions of the portal zones, e.g. also for secular- urban tasks such as jurisdiction). Characteristic of the Gothic is an often astonishing constructive audacity with the development of new possibilities. Even if the principle of the room cell as a "yoke cell with its cross ribs and its service system" (Kimpel / Suckale) is adhered to, the quality of the room changes due to that service system and its rhythmic sequence in the room. The result is a different type of room unit compared to the Romanesque style: floor plan, wall shape, arching reveal the (functional) particularity of the room parts and yet appear as a new, diverse unit. The extensive renunciation of the crypt for liturgical, cultic and architectural reasons also contributes to this; the transept tends to be more closely connected to the nave. All bodies lose their space-delimiting function and, as internal forms, become part of an overall context. On the other hand, social and cultic boundaries lead to new space-separating forms such as the rood screen. Since the traditional type of basilica predominates at first, the central nave remains a unified space for experience, although this includes the existence of the side aisles; The extent to which older functions of the room parts continue to have an effect has not yet been researched enough. The side aisles are led around the choir as a ambulatory, with a chapel wreath on them. The system of the wall consists of arcades, above which in the early stages of the French cathedral Gothic either a two-part or three-part structure (gallery, triforium and cloister window). Instead of the wall as a massive wall and abutment for the vaults, there is a skeleton structure of three-dimensional, physical forms, which encloses the room as a dark ground or with brightly colored glass window surfaces. The use of ribbed vaults and pointed arches was decisive, both in terms of construction and aesthetics. Inside, services take up the belts and ribs of the vaults; they seem to act as conduits to collect the forces that are effective in the construction. Outside, a system of buttresses and arches diverts the thrust of the vaults. The vertical prevails, the horizontal is intersected by ascending services, eyelashes, pinnacles, etc. This does not rule out opposing tendencies, buildings in which the horizontal balance is more important. All forms are divided into themselves and at the same time point beyond themselves; Taken individually, they appear incomplete and only acquire function and meaning in context.

The church building as a whole was probably understood symbolically (image of the "heavenly Jerusalem"), the whole architecture, especially in the case of the cathedrals, contributes to this suggestion, not just the symbolism of individual forms of construction. The church building is the bearer of a rich encyclopedic world of images (see below), which addresses the urban public in a new way.

Jewelry shapes The specific form of jewelry of the Gothic is the tracery; next to it a rich, z. Partly naturalistic capital ornamentation, as well as crabs, finials. The rose window experiences a climax.

In the late Gothic period, the basilica was generally replaced by the hall church. The space is definitely unified, without negating the character of the path and the functional-aesthetic gradation of the nave and choir, the pillars appear to have been set in it. The dissolution of the space jacket is, however, receding; instead of a three-dimensional structure, there is a painterly animation through light and shadow. Decorative net or star vaults emphasize the unity of the space. Keel and curtain arches replace the pointed arch; the tracery, which is most likely to be referred to as "development" within Gothic, becomes more complicated (fish bladder, flamboyant style), later more rigid. The branches appear as a new ornament.

Secular buildings The bourgeois secular building experiences its first heyday (community center). Cities and city districts are laid out according to plan in the course of internal colonization and the development of production conditions. Residential houses line up as structural individuals, but are still bound by corporations. The power of the urban bourgeoisie manifests itself in communal buildings (town halls, guild houses, sales halls, hospitals, etc.) and the fortifications of the city (gates). However, one must carefully distinguish between cities that were able to free themselves from the feudal rulers and those that remained dependent, between the big cities and small "agricultural towns".

At the end of the Gothic period, the castle was transformed into a more elaborate and homely castle (Albrechtsburg in Meißen), a development that began around 1300, especially in France (including the Papal Palace in Avignon).

French Gothic Individual Gothic elements were already in place in the 11th and early 12th centuries in the Anglo-Norman area, in Burgundy and probably also in Provence (the technically favorable pointed arch, Norman rib vaults and abutment technology, chapel wreath, figure portal, etc.). In the economically and politically most dynamic and advanced territory, the "royal land" of the Île-de-France, the individual elements were merged into a new style that was borne by the obvious awareness of being new, leading to the transformation and "outbidding" of the Romanesque. This early Gothic was created on large buildings with a high public function, supported by a coalition of social interests in which royalty, bishops, cathedral chapters and communes, each weighted differently, work together.

The choir of the abbey church of St. Denis under Abbot Suger (1140-44), the cathedral of Sens (beg. Before 1142), the choir of the cathedral of Noyon are the earliest examples: they stand for the variety of forms at the beginning. Each of the subsequent cathedrals until the middle of the 13th century. forms its own synthesis of the means available for variation and development (e.g. invention of the »cantoned pillar« in Chartres, new building from 1194), between the basic common interests and special needs of the client (eg »paradigm shift« to a certain »lapidary simplicity« in Chartres et al., Conforming to the political-cultural "style" under King Philippe Auguste): in an exchange that includes competition as well as the architects' ability to creatively deal with the arsenal of forms, including meaningful citation. About this differentiated cathedral Gothic (apart from the mentioned buildings Laon, Reims, Amiens, Notre-Dame in Paris, Bourges, Soissons and Auxerre) one must not ignore the fact that the "building movement" in the crown land and radiating from it encompassed all ecclesiastical building tasks (Episcopal, monastery and parish churches, palace chapels). For the Île-de-France alone, around 2,500 churches are estimated. All of them document the upswing in this area as an "expression of the renewed French monarchy". In this process, tendencies emerged which, especially in the 13th century, led to the enrichment and complication of the forms (particularly evident in the development of the tracery, e.g. Amiens), also to an extreme verticalism (Beauvais Cathedral, beg. 1247). Around the middle of the 13th century the so-called "Style Rayonnante" was formed: the wall, structural members and decorations are no longer fundamentally separated and interpenetrate in the architectural design (Amiens; Reims-West; St.-Denis). The palace chapels (above all the Ste.-Chapelle in Paris, 1243-48) claim their own position, also as emphasized court art under Louis the Holy. The expansion of Gothic in France, particularly to the south, largely followed the expansion of royal hegemony. Regional peculiarities arise (Burgundy, for example, not least due to the Cistercians, who spread their peculiarities in Germany and Italy, among others: so-called »Cistercian Gothic«; tendency towards the Gothic hall church in Anjou and Poitou).

English special Gothic The English Gothic is partly based on its own foundations (ground plan), on the other hand it is initially dependent on the Northwest French. In it, a tendency towards the multiplication of forms and the decorative, ultimately also towards the emphasis on the horizontal, gains the upper hand. The phases of development of the English Gothic are Early English, Decorated Style and Perpendicular Style (Canterbury Cathedral, beg. 1175; Salisbury Cathedral, 1220-66; Chapel of Kings' College, Cambridge, 1502-20).Italian Gothic The Cistercians brought the Gothic from Burgundy to Italy (Casamari, 1203-17). The Gothic was mainly borne by the mendicant orders (S. Francesco in Assisi, 1228-63, as an anti-Staufer Gothic building; Sta. Croce in Florence). The Gothic monuments are mainly in central and northern Italy (Dome in Siena, 1229-1372; Orvieto, 1310; Florence, Sta. Maria del Fiore; Milan, 1387-1418). Characteristic of the Italian Gothic are striving for spaciousness and renouncing extreme verticalism; extensive abandonment of the double tower facade; Facade cladding with colored marble inlays, d. H. rather early Christian-Romance traditions; open roof truss also appears. In addition to churches, important secular buildings were built (Venice, Doge's Palace; Florence, Palazzo Vecchio and Loggia dei Lanzi).Gothic in Germany The different social classes are particularly characteristic of the Gothic in Germany. A consistent distinction must be made between the bishops' cathedrals, the buildings of the orders (Cistercians, mendicant orders) and the urban parish churches. This distinction does not exclude interaction, not even symbioses of interests, which then have an influence on the building design. In addition to the charisma of French cathedral Gothic, the Cistercians in the 13th century conveyed the new construction method (Maulbronn, Walkenried, Ebrach, Heiligenkreuz, Lilienfeld).The first building according to the Gothic plan in Germany was the Magdeburg Cathedral (beg. 1209). Like all large buildings from the first half of the 13th century, it has a special coinage that is often permeated with local and Romanesque traditions. Independent solutions characterize the central building of the Liebfrauenkirche in Trier, the hall structure of the Elisabethkirche in Marburg, the Westphalian hall church (including the Dome of Herford, Paderborn), for the cathedral in Münster the dome-like ribbed vaults of the Anjou are included, etc. French cathedral Gothic are particularly close to the nave and the nave West facade of the Strasbourg Cathedral and the new construction of the Cologne Cathedral, begun in 1248. Especially under the influence of the architecture of the mendicant order, urban parish churches have developed a style that dispenses with triforias and exposed flying buttresses, tends towards wide arcades, attaches more importance to the interior of the wall surface above the arcades, prefers spaciousness to verticalism. The basilica and hall church are used equally for parish churches. The north German brick building partly worked its own way; Although he started out from the forms of house stone, he soon found structural and decorative solutions that corresponded to the specifics of the building material. Germany made perhaps the most significant contribution to Gothic with the development of the hall choir and finally with the late Gothic hall churches in Swabia, Franconia, Bavaria and Upper Saxony. For the transformation from a "post-classical Gothic" to the late Gothic in Central Europe, Prague gained special importance from the middle of the 14th century as the headquarters of the German Emperor and Bohemian King Charles IV and with the outstanding personality of Peter Parler as an architect and sculptor.plastic The Building plastic With a new systematics according to meaning and form, it is primarily subordinate to architecture. This applies first and foremost to the large cathedral portals of the 12th and 13th centuries. With the west facades of St.-Denis (from 1137, only remnants remain.) And Chartres (from 1144) the series of these mainly city-related, Garment figure portals unfolded to gigantic dimensions (Paris, Notre-Dame, transept facades in Chartres, Laon, Senlis, Reims, Amiens). In Germany, Strasbourg, Bamberg, Magdeburg, Freiberg and others follow with different consequences). Thematically, the portals are centered on Last Judgment, the Incarnation and the eschatological return of Christ and on Mary, on saints who are important for the building or the site. In the case of French cathedrals, there is also the royal gallery. Part of the sculpture inside the church is also linked to architecture (rood screen reliefs; apostle figures on the pillars of the choir or nave, later also other saints; donor figures in the Naumburg West Choir). Especially at French cathedrals, extensive series of statues and reliefs make the entire world and history, which was influenced by scholasticism, vividly with manifest and didactic intentions and a new kind of sensual-emotional quality. The reference point at the individual portals is usually the Trumeau figure, especially Christ (Beau Dieu) or Maria.

At the same time, a less architecturally bound sculpture has been increasing since the 13th century. The sculpture of the 12th century in France, in its strict sovereignty and majestic distance from the viewer, is initially an increase and surpassing the Romanesque pilgrim church portals of southern France and northern Spain. That still applies even z. T. for the Chartres transept portals. A new thrust in the examination of Byzantine and ancient art will have serious consequences. A sculpture sets in at the Bauhütte in Reims, the effect of which increasingly becomes the visual illusion of natural appearance and behavior, until finally the individuality of the figure as a statute enters into an exciting and also dialogical relationship to other figures or to architecture. The sculptures gain in three-dimensional volume, the characterization of the types and faces tends towards individual features.

From now on, these, in conjunction with class claim formulas, also shape the spreading one Funerary sculpture (especially from 13th century) and the epitaph that was added in the 14th century. The architectural Rayonnant style of the middle of the 13th century corresponds to a tendency, particularly determined by the court art under Ludwig the Holy, which reinforces courtly elegance, ideality and transcendence (sculpture of the Ste.-Chapelle; illumination).

In the 13th century, sculpture in Germany is determined by the particular set of conditions of the order and by the client, which means that different basic directions of expression and the different, even heterogeneous stylistic devices used (Bamberg, Naumburg, Magdeburg, Freiberg, Mainz, Trier) appear ). In addition, for the so-called Saxon-Thuringian wall and book painting and comparable sculptures (triumphal cross groups, including Halberstadt) between approx. 1180-1200 and 1250, the concept of an »alternative Gothic« (H. Belting) should be considered further. At the end of the 13th century there was hardly a single high Gothic style, so different is the sculpture in the centers of Cologne, Strasbourg, Freiburg / Br. At most, a stronger abstraction of the garment figure can be discerned across the board as a tendency to slender, s-shaped bent, seeming floating figures (Cologne Cathedral Choir apostles, since 1270-80). The body disappears behind a draped facade; a new aesthetic value of the robed figure arises. However, research has made it clear that especially in Cologne around 1300 different stylistic tendencies worked side by side and in one another. Image programs are differentiated, e.g. the theme of the »clever and foolish virgins« appears more frequently Amiens, Paris; Magdeburg, Strasbourg).

altar Since the first half of the 13th century, the altar retable and the winged altar have been formed, among other things, in the reliquary; its prehistory is completed around 1300. The architectural sculpture of the Bauhütten loses its importance, unless weighty claims bring about its programmatic renewal (architectural sculpture of the early late Gothic in the 2nd half of the 14th century in southwestern and Franconian-Bavarian cities such as Schwäbisch-Gmünd, Nuremberg, Ulm, Augsburg; Prague cathedral sculpture under P. Parler; Vienna). Then came the wood carving of the altar shrines and the small sculptures for house altars and reliquaries (materials also ivory, e.g. Paris workshops of the 14th century; clay; alabaster, a production center in the southern Netherlands and northern France in the 14th / 15th century. ) in the foreground. Around 1300 the change from the stone reredos to the carved winged altar takes place (e.g. high altar Bad Doberan, around 1310).Development tendencies A new collective and individual piety has been manifesting itself since the end of the 13th century in a new thrust of mysticism and, especially in Germany, is reflected in the plastic devotional image (Christ-Johannes group, Man of Sorrows, Vespers, etc.). They are not only associated with increased dramatic expressiveness or lyrical sensitivity, i.e. differentiation of sensation. As in painting (initiated in Italy in the 13th century, partly favored by the Byzantine icon export), a more intimate, mutual bond is formed between the image and the user, which in a longer process makes the image / image capable of speaking for the finest emotional vibrations and thus left to the subjectivity of the addressee and the artist. The abstract tendency that prevailed until the middle of the 14th century has since responded to a new three-dimensional abundance of the physical, introduced as early as after 1300 in, among other things, Lorraine sculpture. The high point of the Parler sculpture in Prague and the simultaneous Paris sculpture (A. Beauneveu and others) with the first real portraits commissioned by the court. The so-called soft or beautiful style around 1400 (also called "International Gothic"), with which the Gothic was once again broadly pan-European, is based on these prerequisites and their specific transformation under changed societal crisis conditions (schism, etc.). Uniformity appears (especially expressive in the beautiful Madonnas).

In contrast, the almost simultaneous figures of C. Sluters in Dijon and C. von Einbeck in Halle not only show a new independence of the figure in terms of architecture, but also a differentiated psychological visualization that points beyond the Gothic. Throughout the 14th century, the town-bourgeois commissioner also became more and more prominent for sculpture, with him especially since the 2nd third of the 15th century the continued flowering of late Gothic "florid" sculpture (M. Baxandall) in Germany (H. Multscher, N. Gerhaert van Leyden; B. Notke; A. Pilgram, M. Pacher, T. Riemenschneider, V. Stoss, H. Backoffen, H. Leinberger and others). However, large courtly and aristocratic commissions, e.g. for N. Gerhaert and B. Notke, warn against a one-sided emphasis on the nourishingly bourgeois of late Gothic sculpture. Around 1430, the break with the beautiful style and its artificially heightened sensual cult images was also made in sculpture (Multscher). Another seriousness and a corresponding urgency is enforced with the expressive and wrinkled breaking up of the ideal beauty of the fold style and the movement of the figures. N. Gerhaert sets standards with his work from the middle of the 15th century (moving body shape, spatial garment formation, individualization of the face).

[Lexicon of Art: Gotik, p. 17 ff. Digital Library Volume 43: Lexicon of Art, p. 10950 (cf. LdK Vol. 2, p. 809 ff.) (C) E. A. Seemann]