The ‘Cathedral’ — a Pathos Formula of Modernism
The article emphasizes the Gothic Cathedral as one of the key concepts in Hans Sedlmayr’s art historiography. Two different theoretical approaches structure the analysis: First, Aby Warburg’s pathos formula and second, Claude Lévi-Strauss’s floating signifier. While the latter helps to map out the multiplicity of different meanings attributed to the cathedral-metaphor eventually pointing forward to a utopian future and backwards into a romanticized past, the former provides a model for cultural development which is organized between the two different poles, migration and the afterlife. The study identifies Sedlmayr’s idea of the cathedral to be based on the Romanticist notion of an ‘aesthetic church’, which proves the critic unimmunized against the subject of his criticism. Sedlmayr’s thought subsequently can be contextualized with both modern art theory and artistic practice. By carving out the contrast between fragment and totality as the two opposing visual principles indicating Gothic-ness, the text, therefore, does not only propose a rereading of Sedlmayr’s work but also proposes a fresh interpretation of a selection of artworks dealing with the cathedral-topos. With a focus on painting, the article exemplarily discusses works from Karl-Friedrich Schinkel, Moritz von Schwind, Claude Monet, and Jackson Pollock but also from Lyonel Feininger and Le Corbusier.
Maria Männig: firstname.lastname@example.org