Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Architecture of Chora Monastery

Byzantine Monastery

The Byzantine Monastery of Chora (or Kariye Camii), originally built in the 5th c. and rebuilt in the 14th c. stands today as one of the most beautiful monuments of Byzantine Istanbul. It also has some of the most exquisite mosaics surviving from the Byzantine period. Yet the changes operated throghout centuries altered its original shape.

Here is an article about its architecture and its changes. 

Like the mosaics and frescoes, the architecture of the Kariye is similarly artfully distorted, chaotic, asymmetrical, and decorative. If we isolate a single figure, for example, Joseph, from Joseph Taking the Virgin to His House, compositional attitudes similar to those seen in the architecture are evident. Students of life drawing would cringe at this figure – we are not sure if he is coming or going. Yet, if each specific feature is analyzed independently, it is more than satisfactory in itself. The artist is composing on a small scale, of individual bits and pieces, without attempting to relate the pieces to the whole.