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Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages Paperback – April 1, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
It is, in many ways, a tour through a land that is as strange as it is wonderful. The entire world - every created thing - was, early on, *seen* as a symbol that was to be read just as the Bible was read: with a sense that it existed not just as it was, but as something beyond itself too, pointing ultimately to God, for God had created it. Nature is understood to be what sociologists and philosophers would now call "enchanted": filled with mystery, depth, existential and metaphysical meaning. The rise of Aristotelian metaphysics (re: science and philosophy as a single entity - they weren't separated back then) is what eventually quashed this such that the world was no longer see as a cosmic spiritual thing so much as a created thing that could be studied as having its own laws. St. Thomas Aquinas, "the Angelic Doctor", did much to push this view and it eventually one out. The medieval era looks curiously modern in this regard.Read more ›
Finally the aesthetics of the organism that sees beauty in the fact that a complex composition is the creation of perfect balance among all the elements that are themselves balanced in the same way at a lower level. The second great approach is that of allegorical and symbolical beauty. For philosophers and theologians beauty was to be found in the meaning of things and meaning was to be found in the allegorical and symbolical value of every element considered because for them nothing existed that did not represent the higher level of divine nature, divine perfection. Even a representation of the devil can be beautiful if it shows perfectly the ugliness of the beast in him.
Yet Thomas Aquinas reveals his deeper sense of beauty in the fact that he provides this concept with a certain amount of autonomy. This autonomy had been in the air for many centuries but he is the first theologian to accept it as an important element in his evaluation of beauty. We find the same dilemma with art. At first art is nothing but what is produced by the manual work of people.Read more ›
Eco shows the classical roots of medieval theory and theology. Platonic thought was dominant early on, where his ideal world of forms was the standard by which beauty and artistic craft were measured. Aristotle was rediscovered during the middle ages; his systematic approach was assimilated and imitated by the Scholastics. The centrality of symmetry and proportionality for beauty began with Pythagoras's focus on numbers. That focus was re-enforced and enhanced by the biblical notions that creation is good (cf. Genesis's account of creation) and that the world was made according to number, weight, and measure (cf. Wisdom 11). The world is both good and knowable in a mathematical way. It conforms naturally to the transcendental notion of beauty--that which is seen as good gives delight.
The medievals had much more to say about beauty than art. Beauty is a property all things have, both things in the natural world and things made by man. Often, artistic objects were judged beautiful by their symmetry to the world of ideals or of nature. Innovations in artistic theory were rare but not unprecedented. The theoretical trend followed the cultural trend--the great artistic achievements of the age were the cathedrals. They were built by many and varied artists whose anonymity was assumed. The work was done for God, not personal glory.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It serves my purpose, which is to get information about perceptions of beauty in the Middle Ages, providing me with a fair amount of information.Published 2 months ago by marianne david
On the surface, Beston's work is pleasant enough, but on taking a closer view of it, I found myself bothered by his persistent and redundant hatred of anything and anyone not... Read morePublished 4 months ago by G. Semsel
tHIS NICE PICTURE IS FROM THE tRÈS rICHES hOURS FROM jEAN, DUQUE OF BERRY. tHIS IS A PRECIOUS BOOK BECAUSE IT SHOWS YOU ANOTHER WAY OF LEARNING ABOUT MIDDLE AGESPublished 13 months ago by Ebottone
Umberto Eco's masterful work essentially provides arguments for how the period referred to as the Middle Ages develops through the investigation of human consciousness and... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Frank Martin
Group this book with the works on Beauty &Ugliness this completes a interesting study. The reader will be rewarded with many cultural discoveriesPublished on December 31, 2013 by Turbo