The medieval liturgy was in many ways a performance in which the worshipper was transformed into both actor and audience--an act of intense involvement steeped in spoken words, music, and images alike. Of all these elements, art was arguably paramount: it transformed the physical setting of this ritual, shaped the medieval sense of belief, and guided the faithful toward a fuller comprehension of the word. The complex and always evolving relationship between the liturgy and the wide range of art that it influenced is the subject of the thirteen scholars who present their recent work in this richly illustrated volume.
The authors' approaches are as varied as the objects they examine, which range from sumptuous codexes, altarpieces, metal shrines, ivories, and the expansive stained-glass windows of the Sainte-Chapelle to more humble artifacts such as baptismal fonts, choir stalls, and drinking horns. One of the many conclusions that emerge from these essays is that "liturgical art" was far from being a rigidly controlled or formulaic genre. Throughout the Middle Ages it could--and did--respond readily and in nuanced detail to the changing expectations of the devout, the taste and demands of individuals, and even the lingering presence of secular and pagan objects.
The contributors are Adelaide Bennett, Elaine C. Block, Lisa Victoria Ciresi, Michael Curschmann, William J. Diebold, Julian Gardner, Alyce A. Jordan, Peter Lasko, John Lowden, Carol Neuman de Vegvar, Harriet M. Sonne de Torrens, Elizabeth C. Teviotdale, and Beth Williamson.
"The collection takes a sophisticated view of religion, acknowledging both the permeable boundaries between sacred and secular, public and private, and the difficulty of distinguishing between liturgical and devotional art. . . . [It] is an excellent compendium for any scholar interested in the intersection of religion and art."--Choice
"Imaginative readers will recognize these essays as case studies that illuminate issues arising from renewed interest in visual art in contemporary worship."--Rebecca Slough, Religioius Studies Review
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File created: 12/12/2013