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Other Icons:
Art and Power in Byzantine Secular Culture
Eunice Dauterman Maguire & Henry Maguire

Honorable Mention for the 2006 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Arts and Art History, Association of American Publishers

Hardcover | 2007 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691125640


A winged centaur with the spotted body of a leopard playing a lute; a naked man with an animal head; a goat-footed Pan; a four-bodied lion; sphinxes, and hippocamps. Few would associate these forms of art with the Byzantine era, a period dominated by religious art. However, an art of strikingly secular expression was not only common to Byzantine culture, but also key to defining it.

In Other Icons, Eunice Dauterman Maguire and Henry Maguire offer the first comprehensive view of this "unofficial" Byzantine art, demonstrating the role it played and its dialogue with traditional Christian Byzantine art. This beautifully illustrated book creates an entirely new understanding of the whole of Byzantine art and culture.

With its wide-ranging examples, the book vividly demonstrates how the surprise of this "profane" art is not only in its subjects of mythic creatures, exotic imagery, and eroticism, but also in the ubiquity and beauty of their placement--within churches and without, woven into silk, illuminated on manuscripts, engraved into pottery, painted in frescoes, and taking life in marble, bone, and ivory.

By presenting and exploring this profane art for the first time in a scholarly book in English, Other Icons will change the way we look at the art of an entire era.


"This is an extremely important book, one that makes a highly original and much needed contribution to a fascinating field that is ripe for new work. It is written in a lively, accessible style that will captivate the general as well the specialist reader. The text could even serve effectively in advanced introductory courses on medieval art. Most significantly, it opens the topic of Byzantine secular art to further inquiry. . . . Other Icons is exciting and provocative, both for the innovative and persuasive interpretations it offers on secular art in Byzantium and for the intriguing issues it illuminates for further study."--Alicia Walker, Art Bulletin

"Eunice and Henry Maguire have produced an engaging book that will serve for years to come as a welcome starting point for students and scholars interested in the secular arts of Byzantium. . . . The book's ample illustrations and lively prose make its recondite implications comprehensible to a wide range of readers. . . . At once lucid and crisply argued, this book offers an innovative and important discussion of secular Byzantine art."--Anne McClanan, Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies

"This is a well-written and richly illustrated book with good quality black and white and color photographs, enjoyable to read, and impressive for the diversity of the topics raised and for the wide range of the artistic works discussed. . . . Other Icons is a thought-provoking and groundbreaking study and though some of the new interpretations proposed might appear controversial . . . they remain important for advancing the discussion on the nature and reception of profane art in medieval Byzantium, even by sparking opposition."--Maria G. Parani, Studies in Iconography

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File created: 3/10/2015

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