Friday, May 1, 2009

Light in Gothic Cathedrals

When the Romanesque style was substituted by the Gothic style, art and architecture were created with more elegance and less rigidity in contrast to the Romanesque style.  New and old Cathedrals were constructed with the essence of this new style.  They were built with lighter mass and were vastly opened to light.  Churches were not viewed as fearful places where you would have to go to repent for your soul.  They were built to look as holy and welcoming places. Most also looked as if they represented a little piece of heaven in Earth.

As churches were built with less dense thick walls, architects were able to build a great amount of windows that were either in the shape of a rose window or a lancet.  This new light was obtained by creating ribbed vaults, flying buttresses, and pointed arches.  The French were known mostly for their stained glass rose windows and for the gigantic height that the church was built.  The creation of stained glass windows assembled a unique light that reflected colors of the rainbow; people felt as if the presence of God was next to them.

The French art and architecture was also followed by the English, German, and Italian territories but it was also changed due to their basis of culture. The English focused more on its horizontal length rather than vertical length.  The Germans, however, extended on their heights but were more concentrated on the Hall church and in depicting more passionate scenes.  Lastly, the Italians focused less on height and more in presentation by painting the outside walls of the church and creating more emphasis in the arches.  

Art was also changed and combined with Greco-Roman influence.  Statues outside the church looked more inviting and elegant than those in the Romanesque churches.  They were also assembled as columns supporting the church and looking more as relief sculptures; looking more alive and realistic.  Moreover, the portrayal of Mary was also changed when she was depicted.  She looked more like a Queen who was a savior to the world.  The churches were now decorated mostly with Mary as the protector and Queen for the people and Jesus was depicted in triumph and power, rather than a crucified Christ or judge to the world.

Overall, the introduction of the Gothic style in the middle ages helped people worship a more forgiving and passionate God rather than a fearful one.  The openness of light made this possible by creating a presence of good and kindness to the churches and its art.

No comments: