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Shaping the darks: Ruskin's 'energetic shadow'

Kite, Stephen ORCID: 2012. Shaping the darks: Ruskin's 'energetic shadow'. Presented at: New Directions in Gothic Revival Studies Worldwide, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, 12-14 July 2012.

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Notwithstanding John Ruskin’s attacks on his ‘paltry pinnacles’ and ‘diseased crockets’, it was A.W.N. Pugin himself who advanced beyond the brittle spaces of his early churches to achieve a greater material presence in his architecture. However, many interpreters see texts such as Ruskin’s ‘The Lamp of Power’ (Seven Lamps of Architecture, 1849) as the salient ones in establishing in the international Gothic Revival – from the 1850s onwards – ideas of primitivity, mass, and abstract form, and the related potential of ‘energetic shadow’ as a shaping factor in architecture. Less examined, as in this paper, are the sources of Ruskin’s sensibility to shadow as a positive figure in architecture, as it evolved out of his actual ‘watching’ of Italian architecture – a methodology of shadow-seeking to be discovered in his pocketbooks, worksheets, and diaries as read against the buildings themselves. This story of shadow is explored on a number of levels: through Ruskin’s mentors in architectural representation such as Samuel Prout, David Roberts, J.D. Harding, and J.M.W. Turner; through critical architectural encounters such as those of 1845 at Lucca, where, in Ruskin’s readings of the church of San Michele, shadow attains a new independence in relation to form; and through Ruskin’s shadow-seeking in the Venice of 1849-50.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
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Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 09:53

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