Romanesque and Gothic Architecture
There were a number of changes that happened to Romanesque architecture to make it uniquely Gothic. Romanesque architecture was principally that for churches, whereas Gothic architecture manifested itself in cathedrals. The difference between these two is not mere diction; Romanesque churches had thicker walls and were darker and on the whole smaller than Gothic cathedrals, which encompassed a number of structural innovations to make them extremely vertical, elongated and tall, with copious amounts of light and space.
Soltes showed an example of a Romanesque structure early on in the 12th lecture (St. Sernin de Toulouse) that illustrated its five entrances denoting the five wounds of Christ suffered on the cross; the lecturer contrasted this information with that which illustrated that some Romanesque structures had three entrances which were symbolic of the trinity. Additionally, Romanesque arches were rounded and their structures contained barrel vaults. Subsequently, these edifices were relatively dark inside. Soltes then showed a number of Gothic cathedrals such as the Nave of Chartres Cathedral, which had ogives or pointed arches and flying buttresses to support them, which enabled builders to construct edifices that were soaring and extremely tall. Even some synagogues, such as the Alneu Synagogue, were built in the Gothic tradition. One of the first Gothic cathedrals was the Abbey Church of Saint-Denis, which heralded this Gothic tradition.
The windows were primarily the source of light in these Gothic Cathedrals. Many of these Cathedrals (such as Leon Cathedral, had stained glass windows, which was a definite Gothic innovation. Additionally, these windows would depict elaborate symbols and scenes from Christianity and from the Bible. Soltes explained that the bevy of 'visual literature' depicted in these windows was part of the tradition of compendiums in conventional literature that was part of the zeitgeist during the time the Gothic tradition was popular.
ESSAY The basic tenet that is emblematic of the meeting of the sacer and profanes throughout the three primary religions in the world today -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- and which is found when studying the respective churches, synagogues, and mosques, is the notion that these houses of worship are sacred, whereas those who fill them are profane. These houses of worship are the meeting place where the divinity comes to greet and inspire his followers who, since they reside outside of those houses and only gather their intermittently, are inherently profane. This idea is the basis for the artwork which depicts various facets of this duality found in all three religions.
When looking specifically at Jewish artwork and architecture which abounds in synagogues throughout the ages (perhaps so most eminently during the ancient period in the first couple of centuries BCE), the viewer becomes acquainted with the fundamental architectural principle that these houses of worship face Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where the great temple was constructed, and is, as Soltes states, the "ultimate place on the planet for the connection between the profanus and sacer, earth and heaven." This is a key concept that runs concurrent throughout all three religions -- that the earthly or worldly people are profane whereas the afterlife is sacred. The meeting place for these two realms is the houses of worship respective of the aforementioned three religions.
In terms of the art that is depicted in examples of Judaism that Soltes has selected, it is critical to realize that he has included works which depict Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt. This...
One work in particular displays Moses simultaneously leading the people and also turning around to deal with the Egyptians, which is an example of the idea known as continuous narrative in which artwork shows things in a sacred time and space which is external of the linear time and place of the profane lives of the believers. Soltes also shows works of art which have rendered Aron, Moses' brother, who functioned for the Jewish people in the capacity of a high priest -- which connotes the sacred and his meeting with the people, who are the profane. In synagogues, the bimah is the pulpit from which the Torah is read, which helps to raise a synagogue with the aron, or holy arch (Soltes). A parokhet is an arch curtain, such as a curtain for an aron and for the Torah.
It is also worth noting that there are some key distinctions between the artwork in the Jewish and Christian houses of worship. This fact is particularly lucid when one looks at depictions of passages in the Old Testament. One of the key differences between these religions is there conception of God -- the Jews believed God to be invisible or incomprehensible, whereas the Christians believed God to be manifest as a man. Thus, when rendering a picture of Samuel anointing David among his brothers, a Jewish word shows Samuel with only seven brothers when he actually had eight. Ortiz explicates that more than likely a Christian version of this picture would have shown eight brothers to show the continuity and the rebirth of salvation with the eighth brother, whereas the Jewish tradition views the number seven as completion and perfection. There are other works of art that definitely Jewish because they only depict God as a bodiless hand, upholding the notion that God is invisible and not a man.
One of the most demonstrative works of Christian architecture and art denoting aspects of the sacred and the profane is the Hagia Sophia, which was erected by Justinian in the early part of the 6th century. The dome of this structure is emblematic of the sacred whereas the walls it rests upon are the emblematic of the profane. However, the dome is separated from those walls by a series of windows which allow light in and which is indicative of God or the sacred. Additionally, there is artwork within this cathedral which depicts eight pointed stars which symbolize a rebirth and rejuvenation after the traditional number of completion -- the number seven. When one returns to the structure of the Hagia Sophia, one becomes aware of the fact that it has been erected as a basilica. Specifically, then, the Cathedral has a main nave which leans on an apse to direct one towards Jerusalem. This fact is highly significant, because it illustrates how such a structure is emblematic of the sacred (since it is pointing towards Jerusalem), and very literally provides a meeting place for the profane people to interact with the sacred.
One of the most time honored symbols found within Christianity is that of the cross, both with and without Jesus. The cross with Jesus on it connotes the joining of the sacred and the profound, since in many works of art which Soltes showed, the cross is emerging from the ground much like the tree of life. The tree of life is one of the ultimate symbols of fertility, divinity and perfection. However, when the image of Christ is transposed upon the cross, his partly human nature becomes symbolic of the profane. The duality of Jesus' regard within Christianity as both human and divine is in and of itself demonstrative of the meeting of the sacred and profound. This same sort of duality is also expressed within the cross by itself from a geometric perspective. The horizontal piece of the cross is indicative of the earth and of the mortal plane, whereas the vertical piece is symbolic of heaven and of the sacred. Another frequently occurring symbol of the meeting of the sacred and the profane within Christianity is the circle which contains the first letters and syllables in the Greek word for Christ. In such a character -- which occurs frequently in the works of…
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