The History of Gothic Art
The Art History Archive - Gothic Culture


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From Gothic Architecture to the Neo-Gothic Art Movement


Right: Anonymous - "Wilton Diptych".

Gothic Architecture

  • Style of architecture and art from the mid-12th century until the 16th century, popular in Northern Europe.
  • Originally referred to the Gothic barbarian tribes that sacked the Roman Empire and destroyed much of the classical art, thus Gothic art was considered to be another word for "barbaric art"
  • In England during the 17th and 18th centuries, the word "Gothick" was used to describe art that was "tasteless", "bizarre", or against the rules of academic art.
  • Due to interest in the middle ages, the word lost its derogatory attachments and a stronger appreciation of the gothic styles.
  • As architecture, it emphasized pointed arches, flying buttresses and elaborate tracery.
  • Art wise, it was largely ornamental and meant to enhance the architecture.

    International Gothic

  • Style in painting, sculpture and decorative arts between c.1375 and c.1425, popular in western Europe.
  • Emphasized courtly elegance and delicate "natural" details and blended 'Italian Naturalism'.
  • Figures sometimes appeared elongated and had supple/sensuous qualities.
  • Artists included: Luis Borrassa, Simone Martini, Jehan Pucelle, Gentile da Fabriano, Stefano da Zevio.
  • The style spread to Spain, the Rhineland, Bohemia and became an international movement.
  • The finest example of the style is said to be the "Wilton Diptych". Arguments abound as to which country the painting originated from: England, France or Italy.


    Right: Charles Moffat - Julie #1.

    Gothic Revival

  • Movement started during the mid-18th century during which gothic styles were revived.
  • Also a literary movement, see Horace Walpole's gothic novel (the first ever gothic novel) "The Castle of Otranto", 1764. The genre was a combination of horror and mystery.
  • Horace Walpole's house "Strawberry Hill" was built in the gothic style (begun in 1748).
  • In the 19th century, gothic revival was considered to be the same as religious revival and faded away.
  • Gothic Revival became the official style of the Church, all other styles were considered to be pagan in origin.
  • Gothic Revival was the most popular in Britain, where technically the original gothic style had never died out and is sometimes called "Gothic Survival".
  • Charles Locke Eastlake, who belonged to the movement, wrote "A History of the Gothic Revival" in 1871.
  • Kenneth Clark wrote "The Gothic Revival" in 1928 and calls it "the most widespread and influential artistic movement which England has ever produced" and "perhaps the only purely English movement in the plastic arts" (referring to architectural moulds/etc).
  • The architectural style became very popular in the eastern United States and Canada, where many houses were built in the style.


    Right: Floria Sigismondi - "Autoportrait".

    Neo-Gothic Art

  • Art movement that started in the early 1980s as part of the punk movement and later associated with Fantasy Art.
  • During the late 1990s it became recognized as a new artistic style. The term "Neo-Gothic Art" was coined by Charles Alexander Moffat, who wrote "The Neo-Gothic Art Manifesto". Moffat remains one of the driving forces behind the style as an artistic movement.
  • Other artists include: Marilyn Manson, Victoria Van Dyke, Caroline Folkenroth, Stefanie Lynn Evans, Judith Weratschnig, Eliza Bathory, Floria Sigismondi, and Jeff Lowe.
  • The style is very popular in Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States.
  • Movement emphasizes the bizarre, obscene, sexual, blasphemous, mysterious, horrific and gender-confusion/androgyny.


    Caroline Folkenroth - The Confrontation of Guilt - 2004.
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