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Announcements & Events

Gothic Art and Architecture

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 2:00 PM

Location: Berlin Branch

Join us for a look at the innovations of Gothic architecture (c.1137-1500) and tour two of France’s famous cathedrals, Saint-Denis and Chartres. Rib vaults, the exterior (flying) buttress, pointed arches, and highly decorative exteriors represent the major points of this era in cathedral design. As a cultural and intellectual epicenter, our look at medieval Paris will also contemplate a couple of sculptures and images from folios. The so-called ‘dark ages’ were actually filled with light. Though criticized in 1550 by Georgio Vasari, one of the first writers of art history, during the 13th and 14th centuries the Gothic cathedrals were seen as beautiful by those who built and lived with them. They were a modern work reflecting images of the city of God (Jerusalem). The Gothic period lasted from c. 1137-1500 and within this era we see Early, High, and Late styles. Beginning north of the Alps this style existed at a time of great prosperity, peace, economic stability, spirituality and technological advancement. Guilds, or professional associations, were formed as were modern universities. Paris, in particular, became a center of commercial activity, intellectualism, and artistic endeavors of the Gothic world.
This program will begin with a brief look at Romanesque architecture, built at the same time as early Gothic, but with a plain exterior, a horizontal design, and less decorative. By comparing these styles we may investigate the innovations of the Gothic style, such as rib vaults, pointed arches and the flying buttress. Focusing primarily on Saint-Denis and Chartres this lecture will explore both cathedrals in addition to some of their stained glass windows and sculptures. Included in the presentation are two short videos and an online tour of Chartres with 360 degree views. Finally, Paris’ claim as the intellectual center of the Gothic world rests beyond the architects; it was also renowned for its book makers. Ending our presentation with a drawing and two folios offers a glance into the artwork produced in a sketchbook and also two Bibles of the time. Presented by Elena Coelho.