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"The principle of the Gothic architecture is infinity made imaginable." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The interpretation of the word 'art' may be familiar to some of us as something related to graphic design and writing skills. However, art is not limited to those per se. According to Wikipedia, "art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author's imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power". This would be a great time for us to review and reflect back on the concept of art and see if we have missed any topics of lesser-known art forms. We will be focusing on a new topic each month - join us this month for our discussion on Gothic Architecture.
G O T H I C . A R C H I T E C T U R E

Gothic architecture was first used in the 12th century in the northern part of France. As usual, when a new king or bishop started their reign, they built new churches and cathedrals as monuments of their power, wealth, and religious faith. These cathedrals and churches normally took generations to complete due to the complexity and monumentality of their design and were usually projects that took an entire community to complete.

Evolving from the previous style of architecture (Romanesque), they added what would become the classic attributes of Gothic architecture: the ribbed vault, flying buttresses, stained glass windows, rose windows, towers, spires, and sculptures to name a few. Gothic cathedrals were designed in such a way that architects at the time strived to see how high they could raise the vaults in the nave. They believed that the design of these cathedrals was a way to reach heaven as part of their religious faith, so the higher the ultimate height of the nave was, the better for their worshipping. Stained glass windows were chosen for this reason as well - not only did most stained glass windows feature religious symbols and figures but in their eyes, using these windows allowed for the cathedral's nave to receive even more heavenly light than ever before. Flying buttresses were added as an elegant way to provide additional support to the added height to the walls and became a signature feature not only of the engineering of these structures but also their ephemeral beauty.

The Gothic architectural style is split into four periods: Early Gothic (1130-1200), High Gothic (1200-1270), Rayonnant Gothic (1250-1370s), and the Flamboyant Gothic (1350-1550). It is during the Early Gothic period that the construction of Notre Dame de Paris begun in 1160. Several well-known cathedrals that were built during this period include Laon Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, Abbey of Saint-Ouen, and Siena Cathedral. Gothic architecture endured until the beginning of the 16th century when Renaissance architecture first made its appearance and started to overtake the Gothic style. At this time, Gothic architecture was described as outdated, ugly, and even barbaric! This was also the first time that "gothic" was first used in conjunction with these buildings.

While classic Baroque and Italian Renaissance styles became more and more prevalent in European architecture, that doesn't mean that Gothic architecture disappeared. Even if it wasn't the "new" style, it was still used when designing churches or universities - which shows that even if it isn't an acceptable style to many at the time, perseverance will see your beauty shine through! Additionally, many Gothic cathedrals have endured for centuries, and even today, the style and complexity of Gothic architecture is appreciated all over the world.

D I S C U S S I O N

Now, it's time for us to discuss Gothic architecture! Here are some questions to get you started.

+ What attribute of Gothic architecture is your favorite? Why is this attribute your favorite?
+ What building (famous or not) that was built in the Gothic architectural style is your favorite? Why?
+ Stained glass windows are used extensively in the Gothic architectural style to bring both light and color into the interior. Do you think the stained glass adds to the architecture? Or does it take away from it?
+ What about Gothic architecture do you think continues to fascinate us? What about it doesn't fascinate us?

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[color=white]Edited by Ragna Lokisdottir


Edited by CaptainBreeland
 

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I love the sculptural aspect of Gothic Architecture. I love seeing all the intricately worked stone work and I amazed at it all. I think my favorite building is Amiens Cathedral with its flying buttresses. I have included a picture:



I am of two minds about the stained glass. On one hand it is very beautiful and an art form in itself. On the other hand it does seem to draw attention from other details and that is sad.

Gothic Architecture brings to mind fantasy. So many of us are intrigued by fantasy and history, that this seems to tie in to that. Of course it is impressive and gorgeous to just admire for its beauty and the talent of the designers and creators.

Edited by Kestrel Winter
 

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What attribute of Gothic architecture is your favorite? Why is this attribute your favorite?

I do not know much about Gothic architecture, but I do think of many places in Europe. I do like the arches to be honest.

I do need to research it more often.

What building (famous or not) that was built in the Gothic architectural style is your favorite? Why?

I do like the Gothic Revival as I have seen some in Chicago as they are quite beautiful and I always like seeing it when I walk around the city whenever I am there. I do think it is quite beautiful.

I do remember seeing St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan. I saw it in 2016 and I am not religious but I did like seeing it was quite beautiful. I do like seeing it in the city and seeing it around sky-scrapers and everything. It is quite interesting to see some gothic architectural next to some city skyline.

Stained glass windows are used extensively in the Gothic architectural style to bring both light and color into the interior. Do you think the stained glass adds to the architecture? Or does it take away from it?

I do like it and I think it can be quite beautiful. I do think it has an effect of brightness and its lighting of the room.

What about Gothic architecture do you think continues to fascinate us? What about it doesn't fascinate us?

As the previous poster said it brings fantasy and it makes our imaginations go wild. It is historical and can be admired very well.

 

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I am more familiar with Gothic architecture in Italy and England. I have also seen some in Spain, Germany and France. What I like a lot is the rib vaults, the pointed arches, and the flying buttresses. I am not so keen on stained glass windows, but they can indeed be very beautiful. Probably my most favourite feature is gargoyles - i love them!

One of my favourite Gothic buildings is the cathedral in Siena, Tuscany, Italy. The use of black and white marble is very striking. This is an interior shot:



and this is the outside




Edited by Morgana Malipiero
 

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I went to art school my first year of college and took an art history class. I really enjoyed it, however I switched teachers for the second semester and that class the first semester had moved more quickly through things so I missed the gothic period! So my knowledge of it is somewhat limited. I think the only piece from the period I know of is the Notre Dame cathedral. 🙈

I will have to see if I can dig up my art history textbook and take a cruise through it to see what it shares.


I also agree with the above posters that the architecture has an air of fantasy that continues to fascinate us today. The juxtaposition with more modern, super clean buildings makes it so intriguing.

Morgana, that black and white marble is very striking! And the detail of things is just crazy, like the faces (I'm sure they have a meaning that I am not aware of 🙈) that are carved next to those columns. And the patterns of the "wall" space next to those faces. I could get lost for hours staring at the intricate details in just one spot.
 

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I love the sculptures , stones , architecture , colours, paintings on the wall of gothlic architecture . why do I love it because its beauty is so pure it touches heart and soul.
My favourite is amine cathedral because of its light and night shows .
Stained glass is very pretty u have to be very observant , every detail is important but others become less important .
Gothic architecture is simply purely beautiful , out of words , magical like hp continues to inspire all the people around the world
i went there have a look
 

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I love the arches and the stained glass. In those times, it took considerable effort to build any tall building and therefore great resources. But glass was even more precious. So, all the effort and details are doubly awe-inspiring, I think. Apart from that, gothic architecture is simply beautiful.
 

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Has anyone here ever been to Notre Dame or been to another beautiful example of Gothic Architecture? I have not, at least not any super historical building that I should know lol. I have seen the outside of some "old" churches (old as in in the United States old, not European, official Gothic Architecture old lol) that remind me of Gothic style.

I imagine seeing one of these grand building in person though would add a completely different element.
 

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I've been to Notre-Dame. ^^ Seven years ago now, but I was there. It really is as gorgeous as you see in pictures, if not more so. I'm glad they were able to save as much as it was - my heart was breaking thinking of 800+ years of beauty and majesty being destroyed by fire.

I've also seen Prague Cathedral, or St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, rather. The current church that stands in Prague now is a bit later than Notre-Dame, I believe, though not a whole lot.
 

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I am so jealous of you and your travels, Julie! That sounds amazing.
 

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Well, all of the fun travels were years ago now. XD I wish I could go on more travels - maybe someday. But yes, said travels were the reason why I started liking Gothic architecture so much, actually.
 

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I need to make plans to have my own travels for sure. I'd love to see Notre Dame in person.
 

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+ What attribute of Gothic architecture is your favorite? Why is this attribute your favorite?
I like the almost imposing, stately grandeur of Gothic architecture, its use of high quality stone masonry and wood work, and its use of stained glass. I also like the high ceilings. That is more than one attribute and I can't pick a favorite of those.

+ What building (famous or not) that was built in the Gothic architectural style is your favorite? Why?
The college that I attended - Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee - has used the same "Collegiate Gothic" architecture since the first building was erected on that campus in 1927. In addition, every building since then has been built using stone from the same Arkansas quarry, which was willed to the school. The result is a cohesive collection of buildings with stunning detail and fine craftsmanship throughout.










+ Stained glass windows are used extensively in the Gothic architectural style to bring both light and color into the interior. Do you think the stained glass adds to the architecture? Or does it take away from it?
I love the use of stained glass in Gothic architecture.

+ What about Gothic architecture do you think continues to fascinate us? What about it doesn't fascinate us?
For me, the craftsmanship continues to fascinate me.
 

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Quote: Sara
Has anyone here ever been to Notre Dame or been to another beautiful example of Gothic Architecture? I have not, at least not any super historical building that I should know lol. I have seen the outside of some "old" churches (old as in in the United States old, not European, official Gothic Architecture old lol) that remind me of Gothic style.

I imagine seeing one of these grand building in person though would add a completely different element.

I have been to the Siena Cathedral, and also the Duomo in Florence. I have walked past Notre Dame in Paris, but i did not enter the cathedral. I have also visited some oft he Gothic ctahedrals in the UK such as Salisbury Cathedral, Wesminster Abbery, Canterbury Cathedral, and Southwark Cathedral. In Madrid and Barcelona, I walked past many buildings that were examples of Gothic architecture - I noticed the gargoyles more than anything! I also saw a lot of Venetian Gothic in Venice, Italy. Building such as the Doge's Palace, Ca' d'oro, Palazzo Pesaro Orfei, Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, and the churches Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the Frari are examples of Venetian Gothic.

 

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What attribute of Gothic architecture is your favorite? Why is this attribute your favorite?
When I was in school I took special art classes and I remember that we talked about gothic architecture. What fascinated me most was how the buildings, cathedrals in particular, were constructed and what thoughts went into it. And that everything that was done had meaning. For example the high walls with big windows on top to create a bright 'lightroom' above the heads of the people standing in the basilica which sort of represented God's light.
But I also like the outer structures like the flying buttresses and decorative elements carved out of stone or marble.




What building (famous or not) that was built in the Gothic architectural style is your favorite?
I've seen a couple of gothic cathedrals such as the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Cologne Cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris, Seville Cathedral and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. I think my favorite is the cathedral in Florence.





I've been there a couple of times now and every single time I was stunned again by its beauty. It's just such an impressive building and so beautiful with the different colored marble and decorative elements.

Stained glass windows are used extensively in the Gothic architectural style to bring both light and color into the interior. Do you think the stained glass adds to the architecture?
It depends on the motif but in general I like them. They add a pop of color and I like how the light shines through them.

What about Gothic architecture do you think continues to fascinate us?
I think it will continue to fascinate us because of the history and the skill and hard work that went into such big buildings. And there's not really something in comparison nowadays.
 

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Mahogany that school looks absolutely beautiful

That sounds awesome Morgana, I forget about the gargoyles but I bet they are incredible. Though I will likely think of the gargoyles in the Hunchback of Notre Dame when I finally get the chance to see them in person.
 

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Oh, how did I forget about the Duomo? That dome is 😍
Not to mention the overall style and detail of the whole building. We climbed to the top of the tower when I was in Florence, and it was super lovely.

Quote:
I have also visited some oft he Gothic ctahedrals in the UK such as Salisbury Cathedral, Wesminster Abbery, Canterbury Cathedral, and Southwark Cathedral.


I'd love to see the cathedrals in the UK! Salisbury looks so gorgeous from the outside. I walked past St. Paul's (though not technically Gothic in style), but we didn't go in because at the time, paying 15£ to see inside seemed like a lot of money because I was still in college.

I'd also really like to see Cologne Cathedral too. My landlord and I geek out about cathedral design, actually, and Cologne is his favorite.
 

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+ What attribute of Gothic architecture is your favorite? Why is this attribute your favorite?
The towers and spires are my favorite part of Gothic architecture. I find them to be a really unique addition, especially in their placement on Gothic buildings. They really add a majestic and almost imposing quality to Gothic architecture and help make the buildings stand out.

+ What building (famous or not) that was built in the Gothic architectural style is your favorite? Why?
I don’t know many specific examples of Gothic architecture, so I had to look around to pick one. I really like the Milan Cathedral and how grand and intricate the exterior is. I am also drawn to its symmetry, as well as the interesting swirl pattern on its central window. The stained glass rose window is also very beautiful.

+ Stained glass windows are used extensively in the Gothic architectural style to bring both light and color into the interior. Do you think the stained glass adds to the architecture? Or does it take away from it?
I think that stained glass windows really add to the architecture of the interior of Gothic buildings. The interior architecture generally seems to be less intricate than the outside, since many key attributes of Gothic architecture are primarily exterior features, such as the spires and flying buttresses. I think that stained glass windows add a beautiful burst of color to the interior, and let in light to illuminate the space.
From the outside, the stained glass isn’t really visible, so it doesn’t detract from the exterior architecture.

+ What about Gothic architecture do you think continues to fascinate us? What about it doesn't fascinate us?
I think that the uniqueness of Gothic architecture is what really fascinates us. Gothic architecture is so unlike modern architecture that seeing it can draw us in and make us curious about the time period it came from.
 

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I’m not truly sure what my favorite thing about Gothic Architecture is. Since I was little I’ve always been drawn to it’s beauty. Notre Dame de Paris, St. Barbara’s Church, Notre Dame de Reims, St Vitus Cathedral are just a few that I would love to see in my lifetime. Notre Dame de Paris being the top of that list.

Maybe it’s the gargoyles, stained glass or the flying buttresses. The overall beauty is astonishing and I don’t think enough of this generation appreciates it. I’ve learnt how to make stained glass. It’s truly a beautiful art form. It’s amazing how in that era, they made such gorgeous creations.

The beauty and unique design. The work for its era is astonishing. The architecture of that era definitely paved way to great ones later. Though, Gothic is and will always be my favorite.


 

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What attribute of Gothic architecture is your favorite? Why is this attribute your favorite?

My favourite is definitely the intricate detailing used to ensure the preservation of the structures. It is incredible as to how many pieces of Gothic architecture are still standing this day, mostly due to the methods used by the original builders plus the many renovations over the years.

+ What building (famous or not) that was built in the Gothic architectural style is your favorite? Why?

St Mary's Cathedral in Australia. It holds many pieces of beautiful works of art, including 'Our Ladyof the Southern Cross,' a very famous artwork of Mary. While being a main church itself, there are several other smaller chapels within the cathedral. The stained glass windows are very large and exquisite. Under the church itself is a a crypt with a magnificent mosaic floor. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sydney.

+ Stained glass windows are used extensively in the Gothic architectural style to bring both light and color into the interior. Do you think the stained glass adds to the architecture? Or does it take away from it?


It depends on the detailing of the windows. If very detailed and well suited to the Gothic architectural building, it adds. If not, then the windows can be a bit of a hindrance.

+ What about Gothic architecture do you think continues to fascinate us? What about it doesn't fascinate us?


One of the main fascinations of Gothic architecture is its historical background and its beauty. It often astounds me how ugly modern architecture can be sometimes compared to this style of architecture as well as the history portrayed within the architecture. What can not fascinate some people, however, is the purpose for which some Gothic architectures were built.
 

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