Forum Replies Created
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.
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.
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.
I find it so odd that we have gone from realism and humanism, with such intent focus on what it is to be human, to a stoic image of humans. In Byzantine art, there is mainly focus on individuals from the Bible or religious context. There is also quite a bit of architectural design focus, mainly for the intent of worship. This makes me wonder if the icons that we have looked at also were for intent of worship. I honestly think the purpose of the art was to inspire people, as they are placing certain individuals on pedestals and highlighting their significance. Old religions became popular during this time, and there is much focus on virtue. So, instead of focusing on the visual appeal of art, there is focus on the purpose and message of the art. I think that REBECCA AT THE WELL is an example of this. It is an expensive work of art, and it has much significance in telling the story of Rebecca.
Maybe the stylistic shift in art is because focus on humans is shifting from the imperfect and sinful attributes to focusing on attributes that are considered holy and virtuous? I think that this could be one of the reasons to why we see such a drastic shift in art.
Aalieyah – I completely agree with you that there must have been more focus on the message of paintings and art rather than the visual presentation of them. Maybe they strayed away from realism, because it just wasn’t the art that was important, it was the purpose of communicating the stories of these individuals that was the main point.
Lucas – I noticed this too! I find it very interesting that realism is not “as important” anymore during this period. Out of curiosity, I did Google “Byzantine statues” and I found mainly carved murals or altar panels, which it seems like these were more popular during this time anyways. If we look at them, they are very similar to the paintings that we have seen from this period as well, not at all close to realism, very stagnant and still.
I feel like the second commandment was taken very literally when Iconoclasts became concerned about the role of icons in people’s lives. I think that these images and painting were meant for communication and inspiration, to teach people about Biblical people and values, and to inspire them to be the same way. It is indeed odd that many of these icons gained such reverence that it was like people worshipped them, even prayed to them. But I can see how that happens! Even today, we tend to place people who are considered successful onto a pedestal that makes them seem more than human. That is probably why icons became worshipped, because people would respect and sought after their traits in hopes of being better people themselves.
I don’t think that taking things to the extent that they did during the Iconoclasm was completely necessary. There was so much destroyed during this time, it is kind of sad that we cannot see the artwork today. But even though I think it was drastic to burn so many icons to avoid breaking the second commandment, I do understand the perspective of this act.
Aubri – thank you for bringing up the benefit of images and paintings! Yes, there were not too many that could read during this time, let along read in LATIN. It is such a good point that the paintings and images of icons in fact did communicate more than words could, and told stories about Biblical characters in a way so everyone could understand. I think a lot of these images also intended to evoke emotions and inspire people, to some extent. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Maggie – what an interesting discussion regarding icons and “superpowers.” I grew up going to a Christian church and listening to various liturgies. I felt very far away from Catholics or Orthodox beliefs, and icons are such an interesting thing to me. I honestly find it odd that people would place so much power on certain individuals, to the extent that they actually believed they had powers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Ckocsis – Yes! The Herodian architecture is heavily influenced by the Roman cultures. It is interesting that you say that we can see this in the Beit Alpha Synagogue, but I can see what you are referring to. Honestly, to me this seems like such an “off” piece, since Jewish and Early Christian art seemed to focus a lot on God or individuals who lived for God. This one is interesting, and I would like to see more about it.
Lucas – Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! I agree with you that you can see a lot of influences in the different architectures, especially with the rounded ceilings and the tall steeples.
I noticed this when looking at the CHURCH OF SANTA SABINA, and reflected on the steeples and vaulted ceilings. This reminded me of Roman or Greek temples a lot. I even thought that the coins were interesting, even though they do not depict a certain emperor, the fact that they would have inscribing on them and a symbol of sorts seemed very Roman.
Something that definitely reminded me of Greek and Roman art is the THE GOOD SHEPHERD. This statue has typical likings of other statues that have been seen, especially because the boy looks so relaxed and in the middle of doing something. It is not posed at all, it is very “in the moment.”
It is interesting to me that the Romans and Greeks had such prominent influences on the Early Christian and Jewish people. It does however seem as if the Early Christian art has more synchretism than the Jewish art does. This makes sense to me, since the Early Christians were basically a combination of converted Jews, Romans, and Greeks. In order to be able to communicate to their peers, they probably made artwork to speak about this new religion in a way that seemed familiar to their friends.
Tamara – that is very interesting what you write about symbolism! I didn’t even think about it, but it makes a lot of sense. If we consider the liturgies and texts that both Jewish and Early Christian beliefs were based on, there are tons of examples with imagery and symbolism. Of course artwork would reflect this, too! Thank you for this post.
Kaitlyn – I agree with you that even though we see other images of individuals or even the Sun-God, these were probably not created with intentions of worship. Rather, I think they were created as inspiration or examples of what people should strive to be like in context of morals and ethics.
In the Early Christian art or even the Jewish art, it seems that there largely is focus on humans in relationship to God. This reminds me about earlier art, such as Egyptian artwork, where there is little focus on humanity. Instead, the identity of humans is seen through their relationship with the divine. I also found it interesting that the images of God placed focus on him, with humans around the divine in different story-type settings. For example, in the ZODIAC MOSAIC AT THE BEIT ALPHA SYNAGOGUE, God is in the center and the seasons and zodiacs are all around him in a circle, as if they revolve around the divine.
Even when we see images that not directly include God, they all speak of him indirectly. Each image is about certain individuals who did great things that were believed to have been accomplished through God. We can see this on SYNAGOGUE AT DURA-EUROPOS.
Even in early christian architecture there seems to be a focus on human’s relationship with God. If we look at the layout of CHURCH OF SANTA SABINA, and compare this to the TEMPLE OF SALOMON, both have a special location at the innermost part of the church/temple. In Salomon’s temple, this holy place is divided from the rest of the temple while in the Church of Santa Sabina this holy place is open and connected to the rest of the church. This shows the different beliefs of the two religions regarding how close humans are to God. In Jewish texts, only certain people were allowed to the most holy place, while Christians believed that Jesus made this place available to all people.