From the Great Thaw and into the Light

As a result of the great thaw, Western Europeans once again felt secure enough, felt confident enough to step out of the darkness and embrace the life giving principles of light.  One result of this movement from darkness into light was the development of a stylistic expression called Gothic.  Heinrich Heine, the celebrated 19th century German poet, captured in words the heart of this issue in the following remark to Alphonse, published in 1857 in Letters to August Lewald on the French Stage:  “When I recently stood with a friend before Amiens Cathedral…he asked me why it is that we can no longer build such heaps.  I answered, ‘Dear Alphonse, in those days men had convictions, whereas we moderns only have opinions, and something more is needed than an opinion to build a Gothic cathedral.”  What are your thoughts on the unique qualities of light found in Gothic cathedrals framed within Heine’s response to Alphonse?


Amiens Cathedral


Stained Glass Windows, Amiens Cathedral

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

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