Space into light: the churches of Balthasar Neumann

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Architectural History Foundation, Aug 22, 1979 - Architecture - 296 pages
Balthasar Neumann (1687-1753) has been called by Kenneth Clark "the greatest architect of the eighteenth century." Described as being at the same time "sensuous and complex, frivolous and devout, ceremonious and playful," Neumann's work provided a high point in the tradition of intensely spatial architecture begun early in the seventeenth century in Italy and France. Neumann was one of Europe's most prolific architects, and among his many building types, churches provide the most dramatic examples of his use of transparent, light-saturated space. Kenneth Clark has described these churches of Bavaria as "the discovery of a new truth, that the faithful may be persuaded by joy rather than fear." Space into Lightis the first ample analysis of Neumann's church architecture to be published in English. It abandons scholarly abstraction to recreate the living situation of eighteenth-century design and construction strategies. Of particular value to students of the Baroque and Roccoco and to readers interested in the aesthetic and symbolic import of the built environment are the book's 130 illustrations, which include 8 pages in full color. The illustrations portray models and plans, sections and elevations, interior details, facades, and full and partial views-from Neumann's first parish churches to his masterpieces at Vierzehnheiligen and Neresheim. Christian F. Otto, editor of The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians,explains the extraordinary times in which Neumann worked and presents important new information on the special relationship of the patron and architect. He points out that in an era when palatial commissions were often capriciously dictated by wealthy patrons, Neumann was able to create freely within the conventions of religious buildings. During this remarkable period he observes that one theologian stated, "I know that God cannot live at all without me; if I am destroyed, it will be necessary for Him to die." Neumann's work embodies just such emotional individualism, resulting in the most resplendent of all religious architecture, as popular today as it was in its own time. Space into Lightis the second volume in The Architectural History Foundation/MIT Press Series.

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