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Early Medieval Architecture as Bearer of Meaning

Early Medieval Architecture as Bearer of Meaning

Translated, with an introduction, by Kendall Wallis
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Early Medieval Architecture as Bearer of Meaning
    Book Description:

    At last available in English, this classic text was originally published in Germany in 1951 and has been continuously in print since then. Gunter Bandmann analyzes the architecture of societies in western Europe up to the twelfth century that aspired to be the heirs to the Roman Empire. He examines the occurrence and recurrence of basic forms not as stylistic evolutions but as meaningful expressions of meta-material content and develops an architectural iconography of symbolic, historical, and aesthetic elements.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50172-9
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Bearing Bandmann’s Meaning: A Translator’s Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Kendall Wallis

    Innovative works of scholarship, especially those with a theoretical orientation, present a special challenge to the translator because new ideas require, and inevitably engender, new terminology. New terms are created in many ways. Scientists, philosophers, and theologians traditionally fashion vocabulary by forcing new shoots from old Greek or Latin roots—everything from “transubstantiation” to “angioplasty.” Vernacular neologisms can be created, like “being-in-the-world.” Terms can also be carried over unchanged from another language where they were coined and endowed with specific meanings, like Dasein and Zeitgeist.

    But there is another way to describe the hitherto indescribable, and that is through metaphor....

  6. 1 The Problem of Meaning in Architecture
    (pp. 15-46)

    The fact that certain building forms are either present in certain periods or are not is an important aspect of medieval architecture that has not been sufficiently appreciated in art history. Those responsible for the building’s existence—whether lords, monastic orders, cities, or other individual or collective patrons—either selected and promoted specific building forms from the repertory of forms transmitted from the past, or they rejected those forms. Art historical research, however, has principally concentrated on detailed observations of phenomena such as the modification of architectural forms within regions or periods and the interrelationships between schools and regions, peoples...

  7. 2 The Symbolic Meaning of Buildings According to Written and Visual Sources
    (pp. 47-118)

    THE WRITTEN DOCUMENTS may be divided into two principal groups. First, there are documents concerning facts that relate to the inception of the building process, to consecrations, to the Bauherr (and occasionally those actually working on the construction of the building), and to the ordering and intended uses of the spaces; these documents seldom deal with the formal design of those spaces. Second, there are the specific descriptions, mostly later ones, of the richness of the design¹ or of the allegorical meaning of the individual parts,² but these documents only rarely touch on the effect of the forms on the...

  8. 3 Historical Meaning
    (pp. 119-236)

    WHEN WE SURVEY the prodigious array of architectural monuments that have come down to us from the past, we find that the buildings of each epoch can be grouped according to certain common characteristics of formal organization, however much the ground plans or building types may differ from one another. The buildings of a given people or geographic region will also arrange themselves according to certain common factors that are independent of their types. There would be no great scholarly fascination in these possibilities for arrangement—for the Bauherren of most and the locations of all the buildings are known...

  9. 4 The Decline of Symbolic and Historical Meaning
    (pp. 237-248)

    IN THE FOREGOING CHAPTERS we have seen how the meaning of a building, once it had become a historical one, could occasion reception by various subsequent powers. All the powers entering into the tradition were moved by the need to establish and legitimize themselves. Each of these receptions, in relation to Hellenistic architecture in general and Constantinian in particular, led to the construction of distinctive buildings in certain regions; they deposited a stratum, so to speak, of structures that became, in turn, the basis for regional artistic traditions. Individual alliances between the various rival powers were always possible. The emperor,...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 249-256)
    Hans Josef Böker

    Medieval architecture, particularly in its early centuries, has become identified primarily with ecclesiastical architecture. We automatically associate medieval architecture with the monasteries of the Benedictine and Cistercian orders and their mainly Romanesque abbey churches, with the cathedrals of the Romanesque and especially the Gothic period, with the minsters and churches of the mendicant orders in late medieval towns, and even with tiny village churches in rural communities. To a lesser degree, the equally important, but less visible, achievements in castle construction, domestic architecture, and urban planning may come to mind. Even in its humblest expressions, however, medieval ecclesiastical architecture possesses...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 257-306)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-342)
  13. Index
    (pp. 343-354)