IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 615: The Pleasure of Sight: Colour, Light, and Shapes

Tuesday 2 July 2013, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Paulette Barton, Department of Modern Languages & Classics / Department of History, University of Maine
Paper 615-aPleasure and Light: An Alternative Analysis of Abbot Suger's Abbey Church of Saint-Denis
(Language: English)
Kristin Barry, Department of Art History, Pennsylvania State University
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Art History - General
Paper 615-bPleasant Colours in Medieval Culture of Western Europe
(Language: English)
Oleksandr Oguy, Department of Foreign Languages, Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - German, Language and Literature - Latin
Paper 615-c'Industrious' Pleasures: Edmer, Gervase, and Completing the Gestalt of Canterbury Cathedral
(Language: English)
Karen Webb, Department of the History of Art & Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Art History - General

Paper -a
Although Saint-Denis remains one of most analyzed Medieval buildings, little attention has been paid to the functionalism behind the design of the chevet, and the quality of light produced through the architect’s innovative planning. The design allowed for the monks, and specifically Abbot Suger, to celebrate the heavenly pleasure of aesthetic light through earthly design on a human scale. This architectural study suggests that it is the strategic elimination of a parti-wall between chapels, creating an integrated design that allowed for final aesthetic, setting Saint-Denis apart from the earlier Romanesque additive design and contemporary developmental Gothic examples such as Saint-Germain-des-PrĂ©s and Saint-Martin-des-Champs.

Paper -b:
Pleasure as a human experience of satisfaction was brought on by medieval aesthetic appreciation of colours. The colours became the Christian symbols: red as the colour of martyrdom, black for denoting sin, white for virginity and pureness, etc. They were revaluated in the Courtesy & Minnesang literatures, where new pleasant colours and their combinations have been found and used for characterizing the persons described or painted. The author tries to define the pleasant and preferable medieval colours and their symbolic values on the basis of 242 Latin and German literal monuments and known paintings (6th-15th centuries).

Paper -c:
How do Edmer the Singer and Gervase of Canterbury in their texts create pleasure in an enticing Ariadne’s thread of clues about the plans of Canterbury Cathedral and its stages? Following allusions to Dunstan’s pyramidal sepulchre and other geometric allusions, Isidore of Seville’s Etymologies and Philo of Alexandria’s discussion of the geometric parts of the temple are used to discern a diagrammatic and intellectual Gestalt to the choices and effacements made through the medieval cathedral’s history. From the Harley Psalter’s tabernacle images to Philo of Alexandria’s texts, a new understanding of text, image, and diagram is discussed that creates self-adulation expressed by the ‘industrious monk’, Gervase.