Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Broken Outlines and Structural Exhibitionism: The Flying Buttress as Aesthetic Choice in Medieval France
by Hutterer, Maile S., Ph.D., New York University, 2011, 355; 3466899
Abstract (Summary)

Flying buttresses have long been the subjects of scholarly investigation, but frequently these studies have largely neglected their aesthetic and cultural significance. When considered within their larger architectural, liturgical, and spatial context the fundamental role of flying buttresses expands beyond that of structural prop, contributing to the total redesign of church envelopes in conversation with larger artistic trends and theological concerns. A detailed analysis of flyer morphology from the early experiments of the mid-twelfth century through the last decades of their dominance as visual nuclei on church exteriors in the seventeenth century demonstrates near constant innovation and high degree of adaptability to changing architectural modalities. In the serious contemplation of aesthetic concerns, changes of inclination, point of abutment, and flyer length are discussed not only in terms of their impact on structural behavior, but also as manipulations of the expression of space. Interrupting and complicating the building edge, from the late twelfth century flying buttresses were integral parts of French basilica-plan churches, an architectural type reserved for liturgical performance and marked as sacred through the ritual of consecration. Encircling the building, flying buttresses assisted in the reinforcement of spatial hierarchies, emphasizing and defending the church threshold.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Trachtenberg, Marvin L., Davis, Michael T.
Commitee: Alexander, Jonathan J. G., Bedos-Rezak, Brigitte M.
School: New York University
Department: Institute of Fine Arts
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 72/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Architecture
Keywords: Flying buttress, France, French architecture, Gothic, Gothic architecture, Medieval, Medieval architecture, Medieval art
Publication Number: 3466899
ISBN: 978-1-124-80801-7
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