Cover image for Masons and Sculptors in Romanesque Burgundy: The New Aesthetic of Cluny III By C. Edson Armi

Masons and Sculptors in Romanesque Burgundy

The New Aesthetic of Cluny III

C. Edson Armi

BUY

2 vols, 384 pages
8.5" × 11"
441 b&w illustrations
1984

Masons and Sculptors in Romanesque Burgundy

The New Aesthetic of Cluny III

C. Edson Armi

For nearly a century, archaeologists and art historians studying the great third abbey at Cluny (Cluny III) have "agreed on a set of abstract principles, including its spontaneous generation or revolutionary character, and posited an overseeing genius who selected from non-local sources." In a sweeping revision of that position, this book argues that Cluny Ill is "the building where regional masons of different traditions first combined their talents to develop a new design," and further maintains that the artisans responsible for the masonry of Cluny Ill also created its sculpture. Professor Armi reaches these conclusions through a painstaking analysis of archaeological evidence, such as masons' marks, and a careful "hand analysis" of the site's sculpture, allowing observation of both individual and general design changes, turning points, and stylistic trends. As a result of his investigation of the major Burgundian structures of the period Cluny, Vézelay, Paray-le-Monial, Anzy-le-Duc, Perrecy-les-Forges, etc., the author has established a new chronology for the architecture of the region. He also has identified the careers of the major artists who carved the portal and capital sculpture. His research has even disproved the traditional assumption that sculpture was carved in situ, for his evidence reveals that finished pieces were fitted into the masonry at Cluny III and elsewhere. By focusing on the work of individual masons and on progressive alterations in architectural detail, the author has broken with the method of his predecessors, but there is ample support for both his methods and his conclusions in the book's 400 illustrations. In his use of macrophotography alone, Armi has added a valuable new methodological tool for the comprehension of both architecture and sculpture, but his most important contribution to the field lies in showing that, by working together, two local groups of masons merged their separate traditions to create a magnificent synthesis: the Cluniac High Romanesque style.

 

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Winner of the 1983 Confederation Internationale des Negociants en Oeuvres d'Art

For nearly a century, archaeologists and art historians studying the great third abbey at Cluny (Cluny III) have "agreed on a set of abstract principles, including its spontaneous generation or revolutionary character, and posited an overseeing genius who selected from non-local sources." In a sweeping revision of that position, this book argues that Cluny Ill is "the building where regional masons of different traditions first combined their talents to develop a new design," and further maintains that the artisans responsible for the masonry of Cluny Ill also created its sculpture. Professor Armi reaches these conclusions through a painstaking analysis of archaeological evidence, such as masons' marks, and a careful "hand analysis" of the site's sculpture, allowing observation of both individual and general design changes, turning points, and stylistic trends. As a result of his investigation of the major Burgundian structures of the period Cluny, Vézelay, Paray-le-Monial, Anzy-le-Duc, Perrecy-les-Forges, etc., the author has established a new chronology for the architecture of the region. He also has identified the careers of the major artists who carved the portal and capital sculpture. His research has even disproved the traditional assumption that sculpture was carved in situ, for his evidence reveals that finished pieces were fitted into the masonry at Cluny III and elsewhere. By focusing on the work of individual masons and on progressive alterations in architectural detail, the author has broken with the method of his predecessors, but there is ample support for both his methods and his conclusions in the book's 400 illustrations. In his use of macrophotography alone, Armi has added a valuable new methodological tool for the comprehension of both architecture and sculpture, but his most important contribution to the field lies in showing that, by working together, two local groups of masons merged their separate traditions to create a magnificent synthesis: the Cluniac High Romanesque style.

C. Edson Armi is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of The "Headmaster" of Chartres and the Origins of "Gothic" Sculpture (1994) and The Art of American Car Design: The Profession and Personalities (1988), both published by Penn State.

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