HOA - LEESON 1.pdf - GRD 102HISTORY OF ART HISTORY OF ART...

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Unformatted text preview: GRD 102HISTORY OF ART HISTORY OF ART – LESSON 1 MEDIEVAL CHRISTENDOM • There is no depiction of God in Islam but there is the degrading, humiliated, suffering image of God in human form in the West starting from the Middle Ages. • Early Christians depicted God as healer, teacher, law-giver and judge but after the Middle Ages, the image of Christ in pain (crucified) became central. • Bernard of Angers declared in 1020 that ‘no other image than that of Christ on the cross was appropriate for a Church’. • Only in West, was it believed that the miraculous reproduction of the stigmata – the five wounds in Christ’s hands, feet and side- on the body of a living man or woman was a gift of divine grace. • Only in the West did lay confraternities of flagellants whip themselves in public so that onlookers ‘shed floods of tears as if they saw before their own eyes the very Passion of the Saviour’ (according to an early 13th century writer). • To present the events of Gospel (esp. the Passion) so vividly was the aim of Middle Age European artists to set their imagery ever further apart from Byzantium. A different image of Christ appears on a large boulder at Jelling in Denmark between 965-985. In this image Christ seems to be absorbed into a Nordic world of elemental gods and magic charms. King Harald Bluetooth’s runic inscriptions claims that ‘he (King Harald Bluetooth) conquered all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christians’. Danes and Norsemen (‘Scandinavians’) as they were called in England were feared as remorseless Pagans in Christian Europe. • Harald Bluetooth’s attempt to impose Christianity on his people was a failure. The conversion of Denmark and Norway was not effected for another century but Northern artistic traditions of intricate flat patterning were to contribute much to the creation of medieval art in Western Christendom. • Very different in spirit and significance is a magnificent gold cross in the Palatine Chapel at Aachen, studded with emeralds, amethysts, rubies and pearls in exquisite gold filigree mounts. • The idea of such a crux gemmata or jewelled cross goes back to the emblem adopted by Constantine, the first Christian emperor. • This spectacular example was made for the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (983-1002) who was possessed by the ambition to recreate the empire in the west. • The victory of Christ – Christus triumphans – is symbolized by the imperial Classical imagery. On the reverse side, there is an engraving of the dying or dead Christ (closer to Byzantine formality) with the hand of God the Father reaching down from above and holding a wreath which encloses the dove of the Holy Spirit- so that the three Persons of the Trinity are represented. • The complexities of early medieval civilization – of which the cross of Lothar is eloquent an emblem- reflect its origin in the turbulent centuries following the death of Charlemagne in 814. His empire had begun to crumble internally a decade before then and very quickly disintegrated into anarchy with the three areas nominally ruled by his descendants. • It also was under constant attack from outside. Muslims from Spain marauded southern and central France in search of loot and slaves. Vikings harried the northern and western coastlands and sailed up the rivers to Cologne, Rouen, Nantes, Orleans and Bordeaux. • Then Magyars from central Asia swept into Europe, penetrating as far as Pavia in Italy by 899 and France by 917. • The century following the death of Charlemagne (or Charles the Great; from the latin Carolus Magnus, numbered Charles I, was the King of the Franks from 768, the King of the Lombards from 774, and the Emperor of the Romans from 800) was perhaps the most turbulent in the history of Europe, in which the foundations of its medieval civilizations were laid. Germany and France began to develop individual cultures. Within them, new social structures were built up from the complex relationships binding vassal to lord – what is now called ‘the feudal system’- though there were several kinds of feudalism and none was systematic. • Similarly, monasticism developed organically, gradually acquiring the importance of a supranational force. But arts only began to revive in the 10th century. • Ottonian Art • Recovery from the century of terror came first in Germany with the re-establishment of stable government by King Henry (919-36)(was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547) consolidated by his son Otto I (936-73) (was German king from 936 and Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until his death in 973) who was crowned by the Pope in Rome in 962 as the first of a new line of Holy Roman Emperors. Ottonian art, named after Otto I and his descendants who ruled Germany and northern Italy until 1056, was in some respect a conscious revival of the Carolingian style, with strong imperialist overtones. • The abbey church of St. Pantaleon in Cologne, financed by Archbishop Bruno, youngest brother of Otto I, harked back in plan to Carolingian churches with a westwork (often west-facing entrance section of a Carolingian, Ottonian, or Romanesque church) that remained little altered when the rest of the church was reconstructed in later centuries. • Imposing westworks, such as St. Pantaleon are typically Ottonian – the interior incorporating an upper-floor chapel looking down the nave (middle hall) to the high altar at the other end. • Although Ottonian, derived inspiration from Carolingian precedents, it was by no means backward-looking. There is a new boldness in the massing of solids in the westwork of St. Pantaleon and a new feeling for interior space at St. Michael, Hildesheim. • St. Michael’s has two chancels (the place of the chorus and the bishop in a church), two transepts (the cross-shaped arms of the church) and two apses (half dome), that at the west being raised above a semi-basement chapel or crypt. Different areas are thus clearly articulated, yet held together by a controlling mathematical scheme based on equal squares. The nave consists of three squares with piers (an upright support for a structure or superstructure such as an arch or bridge) at the corners and columns in between, a system of alternating supports for arcades which was to be widely followed in Germany for a century or more. It is a complex plan and breaks decisively away from the Early Christian basilica’s monotonous procession of columns on either side of the straight path from west door to apse. At St. Michael’s the interior was conceived as an encompassing space and the main entrances were placed in the south flank so that the aisles into which they opened served as a narthex at right angles to the main axis with its balanced focal points. • The patron and the architect of the church was the bishop of Hildesheim, St. Bernward whom Otto III (grandson of Otto I) had accompanied to Rome in 1001. • One is a 12-foot-high (3.65m) column with a spiral band of relief inspired by the column of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius in Rome but illustrating the life of Christ and originally surmounted by a large crucifix. A pair of bronze doors survives intact, about 15 feet (4.5 m) high, each apparently cast in a single piece with figures in bold relief, some heads being almost in the round. There are eight scenes on each door, from the Book of Genesis on the left reading down from the top, from the Gospels on the right reading in the reverse direction. This arrangement made it possible to confront subjects from the Old and New Testaments: the temptation of Adam and Eve is paired with the Crucifixion to contrast the fall with the redemption of the temptation but after they have eaten the forbidden fruit and God points an accusing finger, they cringe with shame, Adam passing the blame on to Eve, who points to the dragon-like serpent at her feet. • Similarly in painting, a desire for greater emotional expressiveness is now increasingly felt and found an outlet in a new type of liturgical book which was used in the Ottonian period, named Pericope. • In the Pericope, texts were cut up and arranged according to liturgical usage. There was no place for ‘portraits’ of evangelists which had prefaced each Gospel in Carolingian manuscripts and incidents from Christ’s life. An illustration from the Gospel book of Otto III epitomizes the style. It represents Christ preparing to wash the feet of the Disciples, an act of humility annually commemorated in Constantinople by the Byzantine emperor and in Rome by the Pope. Here there are elements derived from Classical antiquity by way of Byzantium but used out of context . A Hellenistic statue of an athlete provided the distant model for the disciple undoing his sandal on the right. The figure of Christ, beardless as in Early Christian art, harks back to still earlier Roman relief carvings of a physician healing a patient, here replaced by St. Peter. Christ and St. Peter are hierarchically larger than the other figures: Christ’s right arm is greatly lengthened to emphasize the gesture of benediction, while St. Peter similarly speaks with his hands in the dumb-show soon to be conventionalized as a visual language throughout medieval Europe. The buildings at the top also have a Roman origin in stage scenery and mural paintings but the sense of perspective recession has been lost and they have all been flattened into a symmetrical motif crowning a frame filled with gold. They should be read as the earthly Jerusalem in front of, not above, the pure gold space of heaven within the frame, distinguished from the atmosphere mundane space in which the disciples move. In this characteristically Ottonian miniature all sense of classical rationalism has been lost. Instead a solemn monumentality is combined with a vibrant inwardness, an unwordly, visionary quality with sharp attention to actuality, surface patterns of flowing lines and rich bright colours with passionate emotionalism. Such conjunctions and syntheses typify the art of the Ottonian period and of the centuries that immediately followed. With the crucifix in Cologne Cathedral and the bronze doors at Hildesheim, this miniature signals the beginning of a new period in the history of European art. • Romanesque Architecture in Italy • By 961-2 Otto I had moved into Italy and restored relative political stability after more than 100 years of internal anarchy, aggravated by the attacks of Magyars and Saracens. This created conditions propitious not only for economic recovery but also for the rise of the communes or city-republics. • Conservatism was the order of the day. Early Christian plans and decorative schemes were revived, especially in Rome, where one church, S. Clemente, completely rebuilt after 1084, was later mistaken for a fourth-century basilica. • Church builders in Lombardy reverted to a style of brick architecture, with brick and rubble vaulting, which had been first introduced about 800. In Tuscany too, they adhered to traditional plans but evolved a distinctive classicizing style for the exterior elevations, most notably in Pisa and Florence. It is sometimes called the Tuscan ‘Proto-Renaissance’. • The façade of the church of S Miniato al Monte overlooking Florence (begun in 1018) emphasizes the basilican form of the interior with a tall nave flanked by aisles. But its lower register is a shallow arcade with Corinthian columns framing three real and, for symmetry, two false doorways. The latter upper part was designed as a classical temple front, with the un-Classical insertion of a simulated arcade between the entablature and the pediment. The whole surface is clad in white and green marble in geometrical patterns of taut lending it the dignified restraint and intellectual sharpness characteristic of later Tuscan art. The same style was adopted for the exterior of the most important religious building in Florence itself, Baptistery, dedicated to the city’s patron St. John the Baptist. • The monk Raoul Glaber’s remark about the ‘white garment of churches’ is nowhere more vividly brought to mind than in the Piazza del Duomo or Cathedral Square of Pisa. Clad in white marble with thin horizontal lines of black which give a gently shimmering effect, the cathedral, the Baptistery, the leaning tower or campanile and the walled cemetery still have a brilliance that is almost blinding on a sunny day. The cathedral was begun in 1063 to the design of an architect who must have been responsible for the remarkable decorative scheme of very shallow, elegantly attenuated arcading, with windows and lozenges of coloured marbles alternating in the arches, which was maintained when the nave was extended to the west and the present façade built. • According to a contemporary chronicler, the Pisans ‘declared with unanimous consent that a splendid temple should be erected worthy of the Divine Majesty and also such as to command universal admiration.’ 90 years later, they celebrated a victory over Amalfi, a rival Christian maritime republic in southern Italy, by building the Baptistery. These great buildings in the Piazza del Duomo are direct reflections of the thrusting expansion and prosperity of the Pisans, much augmented at the beginning of the 12th century when they were shipping crusaders to the Holy Land at considerable profit. • These buildings at Pisa and also S Miniato al Monte and the Baptistery at Florence are usually called ‘Romanesque’. Originally meaning ‘debased Roman’, the term was invented in the early nineteenth century to categorize medieval architecture which retained the column and round arch before the adoption of the ointed Gothic arch. It thus embraces architectural styles still more widely divergent than the Pisan and Florentine –those of the great abbey churches of Germany and France and the buildings of Norman Sicily which owe as much to Islam as to Rome. But early medieval Venetian architecture is generally excluded. • S Marco in Venice is essentially Byzantine, designed by a Greek architecture about 1063 and closely modelled on the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople with a quintessentially Byzantine ‘quincunx’ or cross-in-square plan with five domes, one over the centre and one over each of the arms. • It was built as a chapel attached to the palace of the Doges, the elected leaders of the Venetian republic and had functions akin to those of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the Palatine Chapel in Aachen. As such, it was still more obviously than Pisa Cathedral, a monument to the power of the state. • Much of the present appearance of S Marco is the result of later workmanship and of later events in Venetian history. In 1024, the Venetians turned the tables on Byzantium by diverting a crusade from fighting the Muslims and leading it instead to sack Constantinople, after which they became rulers of the eastern empire for a while. • In the following centuries as Venice grew still richer by supplying Eastern merchandise to northern Europe, the interior of S Marco was gradually transformed with mosaics in non-Byzantine styles. Windows were filled in to provide additional wall space, thus dimming the light to which Byzantine architects gave such importance. • S Marco symbolizes the rise of the Venetian republic to international importance and by implication, its independence even from Papacy. In act, the bishop’s church, the Cathedral of Venice is a quite modest structure in comparison to S Marco and stands in a part of the city remote from Doges’ Palace and the center of power. • Romanesque Art and Architecture in Northern Europe: • In 910, the duke of Aquitaine bequeathed a large tract of land to establish a monastery at Cluny, with the unusual condition that it should be exempt from ecclesiastical, as well as secular interference. Benefiting from his unique situation, the second abbot of Cluny, St. Odo (879-942) founded a kind of monastic empire by uniting under his authority a number of houses from which a reformed Catholicism generated the militancy of the Church in the eleventh century. • The first monastery at Cluny was already proving too small by 955 when work began on a new church vaulted with stone and surrounded with cloisters (a covered walk, open gallery, or open arcade running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth), A cloister • dormitories, refectory (the space where you eat food in a church), farm buildings and so on, all laid out on a clear rectangular plan. Before the end of the century, more buildings were needed and a third and greater church was begun in 1085. It remained for the long the largest in the world. • St-Sernin, Toulouse, contemporary with the third church at Cluny, though much smaller, derives from the same origins and its form was determined from the same origins and by similar structural possibilities, functional needs and spiritual ideals. • Externally the emphasis at St-Sernin is placed firmly on the east end, enclosing the choir and the high altar. From the large apse and also from the east walls of the transept, small apses project, presenting a bold grouping of rounded masses crowned by the great octagonal tower rising above the crossing. St-Sernin was the church of a house of Augustinian canons (priests who lived a communal life according to a rule less strenuous than that of St. Benedict had prescribed for monks.) • The little apses enclose chapels with altars (the table in a Christian church at which the bread and wine are consecrated in communion services) so that several priests could say mass at the same time. Church plans of this type, incorporating numerous small chapels into a unified organic structure has been evolved in the course of the previous 100 years or so in response to the relatively new practice of daily celebration of the mass by every priest. • But the apsidal chapels in St-Sernin were also used to display relics, which could be seen from the ambulatory dividing them off from the choir. The long nave and wide transepts with galleries above the aisles were intended to accommodate pilgrims. For St-Sernin was one of the many pilgrimage churches built on the roads leading across France to the shrine of St.James at Santiago de Compostela, in the northern-western corner of Spain. Pillars Trumeau Tympanum Mullion Lintel • Secular, almost as much as religious, art and culture depended on Church patronage. Leading churchmen used the knowledge of Classical Latin acquired in the cloister to write not only pious hymns and lives of saints but also poems in the manner of Ovid. At the same time, however, French vernacular poetry began to blossom in the charming chansons de toile, love songs for ladies to sing as they sewed and the chansons de geste recounting the deeds of chivalry. • The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is more grandiose than St-Sernin, with perhaps the most impressive of all Romanesque interiors. An enormous tunnel vault is supported on square stone piers with four attached half-column shafts, which divide the space into its component parts and visually as well as structurally, bind it into a coherent whole. • One shaft is extended the entire 68 feet (21m) height of the nave to carry a transverse arch, that on the other side carrying an arch of the aisle. The other two support the stilted round-headed arcade and seem to be continued within the stonework to re-emerge in the double arcade of the gallery. Lightning in the nave is indirect, filtered from the outer windows of the aisles and galleries, but at the crossing, it is direct and floods the central area with sunlight, emphasizing the stable bulk of wall and piers. • Masses of almost unbroken masonry, squared and rounded blocks of broken granite, define the geometrically simple volumes of this great interior space. Solid, dignified, inflexibly self-assured, it is a masterpiece of Romanesque style. Here can be felt more strongly than anywhere else, the style’s origins, not so much in ancient Roman basilicas and temples as in Roman engineering and utilitarian architecture. • The...
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