The essential character of the Gothic period, particularly at the outset, was the predominance of architecture; all the other arts were determined by it. The character of the Gothic visual aesthetic was one of immense vitality; it was spikily linear and restlessly active. Informed by the scholasticism and mysticism of the Middle Ages, it reflected the exalted religious intensity, the pathos, and the self-intoxication with logical formalism that were the essence of the medieval. Gothic style was the dominant structural and aesthetic mode in Europe for a period of up to 400 years.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.