A brief history of goths - Dan Adams
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Start with the Classical Age. Because most primary documents were created by the Romans, they carry a heavy bias against the Goths. For example, the Ludovisi Battle Sarcophagus depicts the virtuous Romans slaughtering the barbarous Goths. The Abbey of St. Denis, built during the Middle Ages, is considered the first work of Gothic Architecture. The Abby was envisioned and championed by Abbott Suger who was inspired by the biblical description of the Temple of Solomon and writings of a mystic he falsely believed to be St. Denis. Abbott Suger wanted a grand, open building filled with light and the new construction methods used at the Abbey of St. Denis spread throughout Europe and influenced the creation of Notre Dame de Paris and Chartres Cathedral.
Giorgio Vasari is often credited as the first art historian. In his book, Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, he not only gave the Middle Ages the label Gothic but also dubbed his own period the Renaissance. Learn more about the contrast between Gothic and Renaissance Architecture.
Horace Walpole was a Romantic during the Industrial Age. He disregarded his contemporaries’ fascination with Classical architecture and built his house, Strawberry Hill, in a faux Gothic style, setting the stage for the Gothic Revival Architecture. The house in turn provided inspiration for the first Gothic Novel. Click here to explore the British Library’s online exhibit on Gothic Literature.
What about contemporary goths? Goth grew out of the punk rock movement which took pleasure in thumbing its nose at mainstream values with provocative images and actions. Nightclubs like the Batcave in the United Kingdom and magazines such as Propaganda helped to create a community centered around fashion and music. Forty years later many of these images still retain their power. While goths are often described as dark and moody, this interview presents a lighter side of goths.
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