"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, January 17, 2014

Iconoclasms Past and Present

With a colleague, an art historian expert in Renaissance Roman Catholic art, especially in Italy, I'm giving a lecture next month on "iconoclasms past and present." One of the people I'm drawing on, of course, is Leslie Brubaker, co-editor of a recent book: Stacy Boldrick, Leslie Brubaker et al, eds., Striking Images, Iconoclasms Past and Present (Ashgate, 2013), 236pp.

About this book we are told:
All cultures make, and break, images. Striking Images, Iconoclasms Past and Present explores how and why people have made and modified images and other cultural material from pre-history into the 21st century. With its impressive chronological sweep and disciplinary breadth, this is the first book about iconoclasm (the breaking of images) and the transformation of broader sets of signs that includes contributions from archaeologists, curators, and museum conservators as well as historians of art, literature and religious studies. The chapters examine themes critical to the study of iconoclasm: violence, punishment, memory, intentionality, ruins and relics and their survival. The conclusion shows how cross-disciplinary debate amongst the contributors informed Tate Britain's 'Art Under Attack' exhibition (2013) and addresses the challenges iconoclasm presents to the modern museum.By juxtaposing objects and places usually considered in isolation, Striking Images raises provocative questions about our understandings of cross-cultural differences and the value of representational objects from the broken swords of pre-historical bog graves to the Bamiyan Buddhas and contemporary art. Are any such objects ever 'finished', or are they simply subject to constant transformation? In dialogue with each other, the essays consider this question and expand the field of iconoclasm - and cultural - studies.

1 comment:

  1. The kind of iconoclasm dealt with by St. John of Damascus and the Seventh Ecumenical Council was based on theology; modern iconoclasm is not based so much on theology as it is based on other factors, such as a desire to look "modern" or "relevant". I wrote more about that on my blog: http://benedictinelutheran.blogspot.com/2013/12/christian-spirituality-and-five-senses.html


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