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Balthasar Neuman

Abteikirche Neresheim. OPUS

Volume editor Axel Menges
Illustrated by Peter Waser
Translated by Michael Robinson
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Ernst Wasmuth Verlag, Turbingen, Germany
Published: 31st Oct 1993
Dimensions: w 289mm h 310mm d 12mm
Weight: 816g
ISBN-10: 3803027063
ISBN-13: 9783803027061
Barcode No: 9783803027061
Synopsis
There are three abiding impressions of a visit to the Benedictine abbey in Neresheim. The first is the expectation aroused on seeing the monastery buildings on the top of the gently sloping Ulrichsberg from a distance, the second is the feeling of arrival on entering the great courtyard between the main buildings, and the third is the sense of fulfilment on at last entering the interior of the church. Why these impressions in particular? The words expectation, arrival and fulfilment provide an answer: they tell us something general about our relationship to architecture, and are especially valid in Neresheim.The abbey church in Neresheim is Balthasar Neumann's last major work, and represents the summation of his artistic endeavours. It brings together the two great Baroque traditions that originated in the works of Bernini and Borromini. Bernini transformed the interior of the church into a theatrum sacrum, where illusionistic pictorial scenes serve to populate space. The aim was to create immediate awareness of the content of Christian faith, in order to ensure active participation by believers. Borromini's intentions were basically similar, but rather than adding painting and scuplture, he tried to achieve the same goal with purely architectural means by setting space itself into expressive motion.The two traditions were brought to Central Europe by Fischer von Erlach and von Hildebrandt, and during the eigthteenth century splendid syntheses were achieved, in particular by the Dientzenhofers.As has already been mentioned, Balthasar Neumann brought this development to its peak in Neresheim. At the same time, he introduced a new repose, due above all to thepresence of his favourite motif: the dominant central rotunda.Hence the church is in an eminent sense both goal and Domus Dei. Neresheim is neither theatrum nor built drama, but explanation. When we approach the abbey from afar, we know that a fundamental expectation may be fulfilled here, and we are not disappointed: on entering the church, we are presented with a unity of world and life, not as a wondrous phenomenon, but as a consummate fact.

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