Gothic art and architecture

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his week you have a choice (just address ONE of two options)

A The Romanesque style did not last; it was replaced in the mid-12th Century by the Gothic. Why? What cultural factors helped to facilitate this change? What characterized European civilization in the Early and High Gothic age (ca. 1150-1300, before the calamitous 14th Century)? In what ways did the Gothic style reflect its times? Do you agree with some historians who argue that Gothic architecture stands as the greatest artistic achievement of European culture?

Find and present a work of Gothic art - sculpture, stained-glass window, reliquary or building - either from the module or outside. Introduce it to the class and be sure to describe it and explain what makes it typical or atypical for the Gothic Period (c. 1150-1400). Did it reflect the neoplatonic goals of Abbot Suger? Do you think it fulfilled its function? Why or why not? What does it tell us about society in the Gothic era? What characteristics give it away as Gothic? Finally, of all the styles we've looked at in this class, which one do you think it most closely resembles and why?

Be sure to discuss the topics of cultural context, style and function. Be descriptive and analytical and include a photograph. I will be looking for you to engage with the material - do not just repeat the same information you found about it, but analyze and process the information by answering the above questions.

B Although the Gothic style was created in France, it quickly jumped the English Channel and became the dominate architectural style in England, where it was changed and developed several special characteristics up through the end of 16th Century, long after places like Italy had abandoned it. It became so popular in England, in fact, it is considered the national style for its day. How does the English expression of the Gothic style differ from that of France? What were its special features? Choose an English example of the Gothic style (ca. 1200 - 1600) and present it for the class: describe and explain its key characteristics, function, location, and patron. What was going on at the time of its construction (context)? Are there any legends or historical events associated with it? Which do you prefer, the French or English style of Gothic architecture?


Top-: Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster, London. Bottom: ambulatory, Chartres Cathedral, France.

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