Experiencing the Gigantic in Late Medieval Art

Translated title of the contribution: Experiencing the Gigantic in Late Medieval Art

Assaf Pinkus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The visual landscape north of the Alps around 1400 was shaped by colossal representations of epic and mythological giants, cast as Christian heroes. Whether in religious or secular contexts, all were executed “out of scale”, measuring between 4-12 meters in height, and installed in locations that prevented assessment of their actual size. Rather than portraying specific char-acters from particular texts, the figures embody the notion of “the gigantic” as it appeared in contemporary writings: superhuman beings from liminal spaces associated with supernatural powers. I argue that the experience of the gigantic was achieved through the interplay between size (colossal iconic representations of giants) and scale (giants depicted within illu-sionistic settings). I further suggest that scaling either up or down constituted a key element in constructing the period’s cultural ideologies. Communicating ideas about excess, the giants were experienced as physically and ethically abject and, at the same time, as magnificent and redemptive.

Translated title of the contributionExperiencing the Gigantic in Late Medieval Art
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-484
Number of pages20
JournalCodex Aquilarensis
StatePublished - 2022


  • Arthurian Literature
  • Runkelstein Castle
  • The Pleier’s Garel of the Blooming Valley
  • experience
  • giants/giantesses
  • measurement
  • scale


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