10 characteristics of GOTHIC ART

The gothic technique, which extends from the 12th century to the 16th century, was a predominant architectural style in medieval times, dependent on the Romanesque and the Renaissance. This is a definite change from the old "stubby" Romanesque churches to lighter and taller cathedrals: the changing socio-religious climate produced structural innovations that revolutionized church architecture.

The name 'Gothic' is retrospective; Renaissance builders derided capricious construction without symmetry, using the term as a derisive reference to the barbaric Germanic tribes who plundered Europe in the third and fourth centuries: the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. Gothic architecture was mistakenly seen as the product of a largely crass, chaotic, and superstitious age., while the truth was very different. Since then, he has come to be regarded as the ultimate icon of scholasticism, a movement that sought to reconcile spirituality and religion with rationality.

Gothic architecture is renowned for generating new structural wonders, eerie plays of light, and raising the bar on cathedral construction everywhere, even by contemporary standards. Here are some features that your standard gothic cathedral will exhibit.

10 caracteristicas del arte gotico

Main characteristics of Gothic art

  1. Spiers. These are reduced architectural elements that often replaced the bell tower to give an impression of haughtiness. Gothic cathedrals often feature a profusion of energy, giving the impression of battlements, as a symbol of a religious fortress protecting the faith. Openwork needles are perhaps the most common; this elaborate spire consisted of stone tracery held together by metal clamps. It had the ability to reach radical heights while giving off a feeling of lightness through its skeletal build.
  2. A ribbed vault. Gothic architecture replaced the Romanesque groin vaults with ribbed vaults to counteract the complexities of construction and the limitations that only allowed square rooms to be spanned. Also known as ogival vault, ribbed vault developed with the need to better transfer roof loads, while freeing up interior walls for tracery and glass. More ribs were added to the basic Romanesque barrel vault to increase load transfer to the ground. As the Gothic era reached its zenith, complex vaulting systems were developed, such as the quadripartite and sexpartite vaulting techniques. The development of ribbed vaults reduced the need for internal load-bearing walls, which opened up the interior space and provided visual and aesthetic unity.
  3. fan vault. The fan dome ribs are curved equally and equally spaced, giving it the appearance of an open fan. The fan vault was also applied during the rebuilding of Norman churches in England, eliminating the need for flying buttresses. The fan vault was used extensively in ecclesiastical buildings and chapel chapels
  4. Column statues. The Early Gothic period displays some of the most detailed sculpture of the period. It was not uncommon to find statues of a "structural" nature, carved from the same stone as the column that supported the roof. Often depicting patriarchs, prophets, and kings, they were placed on the porches of later Gothic churches to lend an element of verticality. These larger-than-life representations can also be seen in the spaces to the sides of the cathedral entrances. In France, the statues on the columns often represented rows of finely dressed courtiers, reflecting the prosperity of the kingdom.
  5. floating buttress. Spider-like in appearance, a flying buttress was originally installed as an aesthetic device. Later, they were converted into ingenious structural devices that transferred the dead load from the vaulted ceiling to the ground. To add a degree of rigidity to the structure, they were removed from the main wall and connected to the roof via arch supports. The buttress now "carried" the vault, freeing the walls from their load-bearing function. This allowed the walls to become thinner or almost completely replaced by glass windows, unlike in Romanesque where the walls were massive affairs with much less glazing. Buttresses allowed Gothic architecture to become lighter, taller, and allowed for a greater aesthetic experience than before.

  6. Gargoyle statues. The gargoyle (derived from the French word gargouille, meaning gargle) is a sculptural waterspout, placed to prevent rainwater from running down masonry walls. These numerous doll sculptures divided the flow between them, minimizing potential water damage. The gargoyles were carved into the ground and placed when the building was nearing completion. San Romano is often associated with the gargoyle; legend tells that he saved Rouen from a snarling dragon that struck terror even into the hearts of spirits. Known as La Gargouille, the beast was vanquished and its head mounted on a newly built church, as an example and warning. While the gargoyle has been around since Egyptian times, the prolific use of the item in Europe is attributed to the Gothic era. Profoundly clustered in various cathedrals, it heightens a sense of allegory and the fantastic.
  7. pinnacles. Unlike the flying buttress, the pinnacle began as a structural element intended to divert pressures from the vaulted ceiling downward. They were impregnated with lead, literally "holding" the lateral pressures of the vault, they served as counterweights for the extended gargoyles and hanging corbels and stabilized buttresses. As its aesthetic possibilities became known, the pinnacles were illuminated and the flying buttress developed structurally to handle the vaulted ceiling. Pinnacles are used extensively to break up the abrupt change in slenderness as the church building gives way to the mounted spire, giving it a distinctively gothic, tapering look.
  8. The dotted arch. First recorded in Christian architecture during the Gothic era, the pointed arch was used to direct the weight of the vaulted ceiling down along its ribs. Unlike earlier Romanesque churches, which relied solely on the walls to support the immense weight of the roof, pointed arches helped to restrict and selectively transfer the load to columns and other load-bearing, thus freeing up the walls. It no longer mattered what the walls were made of, since (between the flying buttress and the pointed arch) they no longer carried loads, so the walls of Gothic cathedrals began to be replaced by large stained glass windows and tracery.
  9. Tracery. Tracery refers to a series of fine stone frames, embedded in window openings to support the glass. Bar tracery found expression in the Gothic period, with its pattern of lancets and oculos intended to convey a slenderness of design and increase the number of panes of glass. Unlike plate tracery, slender stone mullions were used to divide the window opening into two or more lancets. Y tracery was a specific variety of bar that separated the head from the window using fine stone bars, divided into a Y shape. These delicate, net-like strokes helped increase the glass-to-stone ratio and became flowery details such as gothic. The architecture developed further.
  10. The oculus. Two specific window designs were established during the Gothic period: the narrow-pointed lancet reinforced in height, while the circular oculus contained stained glass. As the height grew less than a target with the Gothic builders, the second half of the Rayonnant Gothic sawtooth structures were reduced to an almost skeletal, gauzy frame. The windows were expanded and the walls were replaced with tracerized glass. An immense ovum in the clerestory wall of churches formed a rose window, the largest of which is at St. Denis. Divided by stone uprights and bars, it supported stone spokes that radiated like a wheel and was placed under a pointed arch.


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ENCICLOPEDIA DE CARACTERÍSTICAS (2023) 10 characteristics of GOTHIC ART, en 10caracteristicas.com. https://10caracteristicas.com/en/10-characteristics-of-gothic-art/ (Consultado el: 22-09-2023)

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