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Study Questions - Art 264

We start by making a few things conscious. The answers to these first questions are probably so obvious you haven't even thought about them.

  1. The question most often forgotten in the Humanities is, "where are we going?" (or, "what shall we become?"). Which members of society tend to formulate the answer?

  2. The first art and architecture we study in this course comes from Imperial centers. Why should we be interested in Imperial patronage?

  3. Who was the first Christian Roman Emperor? Who was the first Holy Roman Emperor?

  4. This course begins its study of each period and each region with architecture. Why has architecture taken priority over other art forms?

  5. All the art and architecture studied in this course is ecclesiastical. Why focus on churches and their contents like this?

Part I: Romanesque
  1. (Unit 1) What tradition is being claimed in these churches? Why is it being claimed?

  2. (Unit 2) Whose endorsement is being claimed in the Aachen Gospels of Otto III?

  3. (Unit 3) Is monumental sculpture new in the 10th century, or not?

  4. (Unit 4) Define the components of Classical Beauty. What functions did it have? What architectural problem did it create?

  5. (Unit 5) Was it traditional to vault a church? Why is the vault so important to Humanist scholars?

  6. (Unit 6) Was it traditional to sculpt tympana and altars? How are these related to the concept of the vault?

  7. (Unit 7) Is Ste Foie a sculpture? Is she a traditional kind of object?

  8. (Unit 8) Desiderius was a spiritual reformer. Why was the quality of art so important to him?

  9. (Unit 10) Like transverse arches on barrel vaults, the ribs on rib vaults are purely decorative. Why were they important?

  10. (Unit 11) Theophilus was a pen-name. What does it mean? How did Theophilus justify decorating churches with every kind of art?

  11. (Unit 12) Two artforms were developed to an elaborate new level in the Empire: stained glass and enamelwork. What aesthetic advantage(s) did they have?

Romanesque summary thoughts

  1. Many ranking ecclesiastics and monks were scholars in this period. How did they assess the truth of any proposition?

  2. If it was doctrinally true that there should be no figurative graven images (2nd Commandment), and ALSO philosophically true that valid art was beautiful, what problem did that raise? List some ways in which the problem was "resolved".

    Do not assume that your personal bible has the only possible, or the only correct text! Read this: Graven Images Past and Present.

  3. If it was aesthetically true that Euclid's ideal shapes were beautiful, and ALSO true that two intersecting barrel vaults produce a structurally sound groin vault with a wonky arris, what problem did that raise? List some ways in which the problem was "resolved".

  4. Did the Ancient Romans have these problems? What restrictions did they place on art and architecture before they were resolved?

  5. Why did Europe keep looking back to Ancient Rome if its values were in conflict with contemporary belief?

  6. Summarise the socio-intellectual forces acting on society in the Romanesque period.

    Part 2, Gothic

    1. (Unit 1) What is the result of having resolved the logical problem of the vault?

    2. (Unit 2) If divine repercussions are no longer an issue with the vault, what is the new interest? Is it as serious as the old issue?

    3. (Unit 3) If divine repercussions are no longer an issue with sculpture, what is the new interest?

    4. (Unit 5) Oops! Papal repercussions! If sculpture was OK but a Classical appearance was not, how did the new sculptural style "resolve" that problem?

    5. (Unit 6) Can appearance be altered without changing the nature of the thing? What does the international adoption and rejection of the Transitional style suggest about the importance of appearance?

    6. (Unit 7) What do shadows and perspective in painting contribute to the debate raised in the previous question?

    7. (Unit 8) Does the decoration of English vaults reflect their real structure?

    8. (Unit 9) Altarpieces were a new artform in the 13th century. How were they made acceptable?

    9. (Unit 10) Why did St Francis call for realistic art?

    10. (Unit 11) If sculpture was validated by beauty in the Romanesque period, what new problem do the andachtsbilder raise?

    11. (Unit 12) How far can appearance go? What is significant about the new emphasis on apparently natural structural forms in English architecture?

    Gothic Summary Thoughts

    1. Once sculpture and the vault had been liberated from doctrinal and aesthetic restrictions, what issue absorbed artists and architects?

    2. How many different ways did artists and architects examine the issue of appearance?

    Course Summary Thoughts

    1. Would it be valid to suggest that where the Romanesque mind was concerned with knowledge, the Gothic mind was concerned with perception?

    2. If a society places its emphasis on perception, how easy is it then to impose intellectual, religious, cultural or political orthodoxies on individual people?

    3. If a society places its emphasis on perception, what does this do to the individual's understanding of his or her value as a person and role in society? Consider the Italian town republics and St Francis' reason for demanding realistic art.

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