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    • #5787
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

      The Medieval era is commonly referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’ due to a perceived lack of cultural production and innovation. How do you respond to this (mis)nomer now that you have had a chance to explore the Medieval wing?

       

       

    • #7565
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      The Medieval period was a time of great artistic and religious creation, despite its name as the ‘Dark Ages.’ There were many negatives during this period, but it cannot be said that there was no cultural innovation. The distinct animal style present in renowned pieces of art such as The Book of Kells and the hinged clasp from the Sutton Hoo Burial represent a unique style of art that was not previously used. Just like other periods, art evolved and developed further.

      • #7595
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To Laura Barber
        I agree how with how the Medieval era was mislabeled as the ‘Dark Ages’. What factors do you believe contributed to the reference of ‘Dark Ages’? Do you think that different cultures created this label to change perspectives or because that’s how they perceived it themselves?

    • #7571
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      To me, it seemed like the ‘Dark Ages’ were the best time to be part of the Christian religion. The time itself may have not been the best, but a lot of the art of the time revolved around it. That being said, I really like the art that came about in this time period. The use of insula throughout many of the pieces, such as the illuminated manuscripts and even the Rune Stones at Jelling is unique and really intriguing. Even though a lot of the technique in the art is a mixing of previous eras, it displays how closely knit the world was and how widespread the religion itself was despite missing many of today’s communication tools.

      • #7629
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Lucas – I agree that you can see in the art just how closely knit that world was then, and how sharing of culture happened despite the lack of communication and ease of transportation. I’m almost thinking that wars and pillaging had something to do with this. But it is interesting to see how cultures did migrate and how things were adopted across cultures.

    • #7573
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      I wouldn’t say the Dark Ages lacked cultural production and innovation, perhaps the productions of art and architecture in this period were less focused on specific cultures and more focused on religion, but then again religion can be seen as part of culture.Some unique productions seen in this time period would be the beautiful and intricate insular, or Hiberno-Sacon, art such as the Book of Kells, or the Lindesfarne Gospel book. These works are super interesting and obviously extremely detailed, and the use of animal style in combinations of other styles is actually pretty unique compared to any art work we have seen before in earlier time periods.The Celtic Knots as seen on the High Cross of Ahenny is also a unique piece of Celtic culture that makes an appearance in this time period.

      • #7677
        Dean Riley
        Participant

        You are correct in your assessment Kaitlyn. One must remember that the church has always had a certain power over artistry and was able to deem what should be allowed and what was to taboo by their standards. Because at the time the church was probably the largest employer of artists, what ever rules they set had to be followed.

    • #7574
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Lucas, it does seem like most of the art was focused on the Christian religion doesn’t it, I wonder if this if it is because this is the only art that survived, or just what we are mainly being shown in this class. I agree with you the illuminated manuscripts are totally unique and very cool pieces of art. I like the connection you make about how widespread the religion was even without efficient communication tools.

    • #7580
      Maggie May
      Participant

      Calling this period the Dark Ages is definitely misleading. So many advances were made in art and literature. New styles were employed and new themes represented. Much significant art was produced. However, there were of course drawbacks to this time period which may make calling it ‘the dark ages’ far more reasonable.

      • #7609
        Lacey Miller
        Participant

        Maggie May- Agreed that this time was likely named for other dark attributes without focus on art.

      • #7630
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Maggie – I agree that it is misleading! The “Dark Ages” has such a negative ring to it, it does not reflect at all on the art that came through during this era. A lot of the art seemed to have so much detail and attention placed in to, and they were light, sparkly, and positive. Definitely not something that I would name coming from a “dark” period.

    • #7594
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      The reference ‘Dark Ages’ was given to the Medieval period by the Romans with a different perspective of culture. What we learned about the Romans previously was how they were heavily influenced by the Greeks who shared the practice of realism in art. ‘The Symbol of the Evangelist Matthew, The Gospel Book of Durrow’ contrasts from how the Greco-Romans depicted the human physique. Unlike their southern neighbors ‘The Book of Kells’ from Chi Rho Iota, Scotland holds more details in the design through shapes and color. These designs that were created gave the capability to incorporate hidden images and references. There is no denying how much cultures influence each other in art, but we can recognize how language impacts our perspective. Labels such as ‘Dark Ages’ and ‘barbarian’ are just as influential as art can be to a culture.

      • #7612
        Laura Barber
        Participant

        Re: Miranda
        Great points! I love your last line. It’s so true that labels can sometimes influence perception just as much as reality can, if not more.

      • #7635
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        Miranda, you raise a great point. Words do impact how we view art and everything else. We are all looking for the quick definition that allows us to form our opinions without necessarily taking the time to evaluate the merit of any particular piece of art or culture.

      • #7732
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        Miranda,
        I like how you mention the perspective of the people that coined the name “the Dark Ages.’ It’s always good to remember that history is written through the lens of a few. It actually would make a lot of sense for a civilization that values realism in their art to see the simple, almost regressed art, for example the depiction of the Apostle Matthew on the Book of Durrow, as a “lack of culture.’ So, while in the eyes of the Roman Empire, the simplistic, less realistic art from the “dark ages” was considered “less,” really it was just stylistically different. I myself must admit I share the same opinion of modern, abstract art!

    • #7596
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      after reviewing the Medieval wing I can understand why it is called the “Dark Ages”. My opinion is to believe because of there choice of coloring use. I noticed that the artist chose to use darker coloring during this era, and that the architecture of the different Churches and Cathedrals. Say for instance the Stave Churches, I mean would you think it would be a church or would you think it to be a place of dark maybe even evil. However on the brighter side the art is appealing and worth exploring and learning the history of it all.

      • #7654
        ckocsis
        Participant

        Interesting points! No one else brought up how it could be referring to the actually darkness of the art. That’s really interesting.

    • #7608
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      The amount of growth artistically is monumental during the dark ages. I suppose during the most mundane lowly times we reach deeper inside our own creativity, maybe that’s to credit here. I appreciate the expansion and development of geometric design as an aesthetic quality. We have seen it in times before, but during this time it seems to be a rock solid stand alone, like in the hinged clasp of the Sutton Hoo burial. The art of this time seems to revolve more so on aesthetic beauty and “prettiness” rather than sending messages. Truly a time of art growth in my eye.

      • #7683
        Raven Shaw
        Participant

        I don’t think the growth happened because it was a mundane lowly time, the growth happened in response to chaos. After the fall of the unifying rule of Rome, people had a deep desire for order – which the church leapt forward to provide through belief. They drew people in with the magnificence of their cathedrals and the symmetry of their holy books – both sources of stable order. Charlemagne saw the needs of his people and funded the church to provide stability for them.

      • #7733
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        Lacey,
        I like the point you make here! The “Dark Ages’ were a difficult time to be alive, ravaged by disease, war, and hardship. It is an interesting theory that the challenges of the time period would be reflected in the style of its art. I agree that depicting the message wasn’t as important in this time period, for example the illuminated manuscripts used in processions, such as the Book of Kellis, which has only two letters on its front.

    • #7613
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      Initially, I believed that the term Dark Ages was appropriate. Comparing these cultures to the glory days of the Roman Empire it is easy to declare that there is a decline in both art and literature. In reality, it was the loss of the centralized language and centralized governments that give that perception. After reading and reviewing the material in the medieval wing I now realize that culture may have changed but it soon recreated itself and began to move forward. There were changes that brought both innovation and creation of new methods. New techniques of working precious metals were created such as repoussé, chasing, cloisonné, and micro-goldsmithing techniques were developed. Important innovations in writing and copying of the illumination of religious materials were elevated to an art form. Charlemagne was very influential in the literature where the monks within his scriptoriums increased the production of manuscripts. Before Charlemagne, there were an estimated 500 manuscripts that have survived. After the Carolingian period, we have over 7,000 manuscripts and the punctuation we use in writing today. The appropriate phrase may not be the “Dark Ages’ but the era of change and reorganization of western culture.

      • #7648
        Gabe
        Participant

        That’s an interesting point that the decentralization and fracture of culture at the time equated to ‘darkness’. I wonder if there is any correlaries to modern slogans such as ‘Diversity is our Strength’ etc. Like people may perceive the lack of uniformity as a lack, whereas in reality there is a hidden richness in the different pockets.

    • #7621
      Valene
      Participant

      The Medieval era is clearly not lacking in cultural production and innovation. Just discussing the Vikings era and the beautiful ships they created with artistic creativity and ingenuity as well as the Stave churches and their amazing architecture alone shows how this “dark age’ was not without cultural production and innovation. There is also the intricate Rune stones like the Rune Stones at Jelling show beautiful intricate carving and story-telling through this artistic interpretation of their god and its story. I think the misnomer of this time period really has to do with the fact that some of the art styles are different than past time periods but they are unique in their own way.

      • #7687
        Lucas Warthen
        Participant

        Hey Valene,

        I agree with both your points on Stave Churches and Rune Stones – I think the Rune Stones played a big part in this era claiming the misnomer of ‘Dark Ages.’ The Rune Stones are not only beautiful but also somewhat scary – the depiction of the Christ-shape being wrapped by ropes/snakes really gives a creepy feeling to this time period despite the underlying beauty. The fact that their gods were also displayed in less-than-ideal images (Odin hanging from a tree, hurt by a spear) can attest to this as well.

    • #7622
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      I never have cared for the term, “The Dark Ages” for the Medieval period. While it does make sense when speaking of aesthetics, given the earlier periods, it is usually meant with the idea of a lack of innovation. In my opinion overall, this is when the ancient world starts to turn towards modernity. How this can be considered lacking in innovation, I do not understand. When talking purely on the topic of art, I can see it in some ways. After some of the almost living art of the previous periods, some of these pieces do seem to lack color and vibrancy. However, even with this shift, there are still some things that would still defy the idea of the Dark ages. The Book of Kells is truly amazing, as is so much of the metalworking of this period. The Celtic Knotwork, both in items such as the Book of Kells, or in any other representation of art, is intriguing and captivating, as an art as well as a mode of storytelling. So, I still feel that the term “The Dark Ages” is misplaced and unwarranted.

      • #7667
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Tamara, I agree completely with your post! The artwork here does seem to use darker shades than other eras, but they produced some of the best pieces. Celtic knots are still used all over today because their designs look so simple but so intricate.

    • #7631
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      I am honestly surprised over the name “Dark Ages”, because this has such a negative ring to it. And the lack of cultural production seems a little too harsh, as well. I would say that you can see how cultures are been borrowed, and are influencing each other. Just look at the Byzantine earrings that Queen Arnegunde. Now, if it was friendly “sharing” of culture, or if it was impacts from wars and pillaging, I don’t know. But there is a spread of cultures.

      The artwork seen from the Vikings, the Norse, and the Celts, does not look like it came from a dark age or any age that was inhibited of cultural production and innovation. If we look at the books and gospels, these are bright and intricately decorated, they have a bright and positive tone rather than dark. The intricate designs that we see, where there is braided and winding branches and patterns is gorgeous and very innovative.

      In short, the “Dark Ages” is a misconception of this era. There was plenty of innovation and cultural production that we can see reflected in the art.

      • #7678
        Dean Riley
        Participant

        I think it is easy to look at this 5th century art and critique it through 21st century eyes. What was going on during that time with the rise of the Christian church, influenced art a great deal. I think they were trying to blend beauty and function into one and much of the architecture is amazing from this time.

    • #7642
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      I think the “lack of innovation’ stems purely from a historical and scientific perspective, but from an artist perspective we see many interesting innovation and styles come out of the medieval ages that are unique to the era, such as the Celtic animal art style. Religion and cultural practices helped form medieval art as we know it. Lots of metalwork was done in the’dark’ ages that seems to not get enough credit. Jewelry, armor, and weapons were created and used. Though it doesn’t relate to this course specifically, torture devices were also designed in the middle ages which goes to show that innovations were just placed elsewhere.

      • #7666
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Jessi, it does make sense when you think of everything they created during the medieval period as a whole rather than just focusing on our specific examples. The Dark Ages is probably heavily referring more toward the tortures they implemented during this time period instead of the art since we do still see some brightly colored images.

    • #7644
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Miranda Johannson
      I was thinking the same thing. The art that the nords and celts created during that time is so very unique, it seems unfair to call this time lacking innovation. I enjoyed reading your response.

    • #7645
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Miranda Jackovich
      You made some really good points there — the fact that the Romans created labels for those around them that did not meet “civilized’ standards that they had, like the use of “dark ages’ and “barbarian’. It reminds me of living on the Navajo reservation and taking classes at the Tribal college. What was perceived as barbaric to white outsiders and settlers was a complete misnomer as the Navajo people developed medicine, ceremonies, hunting, astronomy, and so many innovations that don’t meet the colonial standards. It’s just differing perspectives trying to label something they don’t fully understand.

    • #7646
      Gabe
      Participant

      An idea that I’ve heard from a friend of mine who studied anthropology is that a reason the ‘Dark Ages’ were called ‘Dark’ was because the feudal system that was implemented at the time was so stable (not necessarily just or fair though), and so relative to other times not that much was happening. I’m not sure of the absolute validity of that idea, but it provides and interesting context for the kinds of artwork that were emerging at the time. The illuminated manuscripts for instance show and intense attention to detail and the repetition of small movements which might be thematically appropriate for a people who lived in the same fiefdom that there were born in and would die in. That being said, the Palace of Charlemagne is undeniably tremendously impressive, so any idea that the ‘Dark Ages’ lack wealth and opulence is definitely mistaken.

    • #7651
      ckocsis
      Participant

      I definitely think the term the “Dark Ages” is a misnomer. I think it may referred to as the Dark Ages be because most of the art from that time period focuses on religion, and there were no radical changes in religion, therefore the subject matter of art and literature didn’t change much. But in my opinion, religion is another form of culture, and just because things weren’t drastically changing doesn’t mean that they weren’t evolving.

      • #7662
        Aalieyah Creach
        Participant

        Re ckocsis:

        I agree with your last statement. although things where definitely slow during the dark ages, progression and evolution was very much in play as time passed. Not only the progression of religion but a lot of other things a swell.

    • #7652
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      When I hear ‘Dark Ages’ I immediately think of disease and poverty. I certainly don’t think of beautifully crafted art work. But, what I have seen amidst this weeks Medieval wing is a plethora of incredibly made pieces of art. While it is clear that there was tremendous artistic ability during this time period and a lot of it has survived. While there was certainly social and economic ‘darkness’ due to the lack of innovation during this time, the art during this time period is absolutely beautiful and awe inspiring. I would not call these the ‘dark ages’, I much prefer the term Medieval. While there wasn’t much progress forward in things like standard of living, there was certainly development artistically.

    • #7653
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      RE Jessie:

      Really interesting point! I totally agree. You could say that there was a lack of innovation but only in specific areas of culture. To say that no innovation took place is a rather absurd notion.

    • #7660
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      Looking at all the different types of artwork that was made back in the medieval times. I can safely say that everything that i have seen is completely different from any artwork that we have looked upon. One thing that really stood out for me while i was looking at these art pieces were the buildings that they made. Each one is completely different and yet so mesmerizing when looking at it. One piece of artwork that really caught my eye was Charlemagne’s palace. It is so incredibly well done that its hard not to notice it.

      • #7692
        csayreswoody
        Participant

        I must agree with you that some of the buildings from this time is simply beautiful and worth looking at. However I also do find some a bit questionable as well. If I was to see these buildings without knowing the back ground behind them I would have ever thought these where places to worship.

    • #7665
      tmbergan
      Participant

      The Medieval era isn’t lacking in the cultural production and innovation, I think people just look at some of the basic Christian artworks and assume that’s it. The Viking time frame had some of the best pieces come from it with the Oseberg ship, and Stave churches. I think the term “Dark Ages’ may be coming more from history rather than the art or lack of it. Some of the art pieces do have more muted tones, and the churches are a lot darker in color and on the inside as well compared to the other churches we’ve seen, but that doesn’t seem like enough to really get the “Dark Ages’ name. The time period could’ve led to the destruction of more of their pieces like we saw during the iconoclasm.

      • #7696
        Valene
        Participant

        Re: tmbergan
        I really think you are correct in assessing that the term “dark ages” is more from what what was happening in this time period than its art. I don’t find the art to be any darker than any other time period.

    • #7668
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      Although there wasn’t as much art as previous wings, I don’t believe the Dark Ages was lacking cultural innovation. There was something unique about the Dark Ages. During this period we saw an increase in the use of animal style, which was not seen in past wings. I believe the main reason for people thinking the Dark Ages lacked innovation was because they focused mainly on religion and not their own culture, however religion was pretty steady over this time period and didn’t change much therefore I believe that was the reason for the lack of diversity of their art.

    • #7669
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      I like that you took a different take than most of our classmates in commenting mostly on the color scheme of the Dark Ages. The dark coloring was something different from the past wings we have viewed. That in itself I believe is innovation of culture.

    • #7676
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      I feel at the time, the Christian church was dictating much of the theme of the art that was being produced. I think of this time as more of the “Dark Ages” when it comes to artists being able to express their own style and not was being dictated to them by the church. With this being said, there are many great examples of art that shows innovation. The artistry on the Lindesfarne Gospel and the Book of Kells is exquisite. It reminds me of the more modern trend of zentangles.

    • #7682
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      think referring to the Medieval era as the “Dark Ages’ may have been a modern way to underplay the good things that the spread of Christianity brought into being. During the Middle Ages global warming allowed greater use of farming, allowing greater populations that needed a unifying belief to get along. Renowned universities started up, staffed by teachers in the clergy, where you could get a degree in law or medicine. The church funded biological research, and funded leaps in architecture that still stand today. The Black Plague struck at the end of this golden era, helping to give it a bad name.

      In the Middle ages, artists and architects used previous civilizations’ techniques in art and building, then added their own new techniques and style. This was a Renaissance before the more recognized Renaissance after the Plague.

      Medieval metal workers improved on the knowledge of the Romans, with use of repousse and cloisonne. I think the most beautiful use of repousse in the lesson was the Lindau Gospels cover.

      The Vikings built churches in the style of Roman basilicas, but used stave architecture — they used load-bearing poles to make everything sturdy. They had excellent knowledge of ship-building, and were such good seamen that they were able to sail to North America and back.

      There was a transition from pagan oral tradition to Christian written texts, and the invention of a kind of paper made from animal skin that would last much longer than wood pulp or papyrus. The holy books were heavily decorated with symbols, not just for beauty but for the parishioners who were still illiterate. The illuminations forced the chaos of the natural world into a symmetrical order, highly detailed. Charlemagne created scriptoriums where monks would make many revised copies of holy books. He wanted to standardize writing as well as religious belief.

    • #7731
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      The Medieval era may have been a brutal time of prolific warfare, but it certainly did not lack cultural production and innovation. From the Vikings carving runed stones in the distant lands they sailed to, to towering, spired wooden architecture, to beautiful, richly embellished jewelry inlaid with gold and gemstones, art advanced and preserved the Medieval era’s culture. The Book of Durrow and the Book of Kellis and other important religious manuscripts showed an introduction and incorporation of words into art and art into literature. Crucifixes, crosses, and beautiful Abbeys were erected, such as the High Crosses of Ahenny and the Abbey Church of Corvey, all demonstrating great care and intricate design.

      So yes, to say the “Dark Ages’ were a time of declined culture would be quite incorrect.

    • #7936
      Jess
      Participant

      I feel as though the Dark Ages were called the Dark Ages because of all famine and plagues and not so much because of the culture. The Durham Cathedral is a pristine example of how innovative and creative the people of that time were. The Throne of Wisdom is also a great example of how forward thinking the people were as well.

    • #7947
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      I feel like the Dark Ages were innovative and productive culturally if you look at the culture of the time being dictated by religion. I think of it as the American culture of WWII being focused on patriotism, almost everyone was on board and patriotism was the culture.

      The north spire of Notre Dame was rebuilt in 1506 and the intricacy of the new spire is a good example of the innovation during the late medieval period. The Bible moralisée during the time served to created a lot of innovative illustrations for the period and in my opinion display huge cultural advancement.

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