Artsy: Jonathan McAloon

In his “Apologia ad Guillelmum” of 1125, the Cistercian monk Saint Bernard of Clairvaux attacked what he saw as superfluous decoration in the day’s art and architecture. “What is the point of those unclean apes, fierce lions, monstrous centaurs, half-men, striped tigers, fighting soldiers and hunters blowing their horns?” he wrote. “Here on a quadruped we see the tail of a serpent. Over there on a fish we see the head of a quadruped.”
These embellishments were all well and good for the general congregation, who needed something superficial to drag them to church. But wouldn’t the monks themselves be distracted from prayer by all the gargoyles dotting the cloisters? These monks, however, were incorporating such “distractions” into their own godly work producing and decorating religious texts, a practice that fed back into the development of art as we know it. …Read More
Pictured: Image from Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry by the Limbourg Brothers