Styles & Periods

Styles & Periods

Gothic Art

Gothic architecture is characterized by its use of ribbed vaults, the pointed arch, and tall windows that flood the space with light. The new Gothic style was born in the cathedral of Saint Denis. Instead of piling rock buttresses to support the weight of the building as architects of Romanesque churches had done, the designers of Saint Denis created a system of pointed arches, which bore the weight of skeletal ribs in a downward fashion, instead of outward. These arches were in turn supported by magnificent flying buttresses on the outer edges of the building. These remarkable new systems left the walls free from bearing the weight of the roofs, and therefore could be used for decoration. Great walls of colored glass were placed in Gothic cathedrals, likening the experience of worshipping in a cathedral to being close to God. In Italy, Gothic painters Cimabue, Duccio and Giotto were developing a new style of image based on the influence of Byzantine art. Giotto’s work included Romanesque architectural elements, the use of gold, and a commitment to drawing accurately from life. Giotto demonstrated a great spark which was to turn into the flame of the Renaissance.


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