As of today, the Italian Art Society Blog will launch a set of new series in order to enhance our presentation of medieval Italian art. Each weekly post will be grouped thematically into a respective series to highlight subjects and theories relevant to the atmosphere of medieval art history today. The goal of these posts is to expand awareness of a multitude of medieval Italian artworks through means supplemental to anniversaries, as such dates are the exception rather than the norm when it comes to medieval works. It is the hope of the IASBlog that each post will be both informative and accessible to a vast array of audiences. Each new sequence will be introduced with a post situating necessary background information to give readers the larger picture before diving into specific examples in the subsequent weeks.
Our first series, Medieval Materiality, will explore the vast array of medieval media used to represent the multi-sensuous world of medieval life and thought. From the skin of sheeps and lambs used to create the parchment onto which the “Word of God, [which] was made flesh” (John 1:14) was written, to the luminous mosaic patterns that displayed the salvation achieved in the Heavenly Jerusalem, to use of Ancient Roman spolia to signal the triumph of the new Christian Rome, and many more, it is challenging to find a medieval artwork whose materiality, through its sensuality and polyvalence, did not signify a greater importance than the images or objects that it was used to create. Medieval art provides today’s audiences with a unique experience to look beyond, below, and above the surface, to see what hidden meanings and treasures, accessible to the human eye, are waiting for further intellectual and personal engagement.
Please note that these posts are intended to participate in ongoing academic discussions and do not claim to be the authority on any singular topic nor will each post’s bibliography be exhaustive. Rather, the goal will be to highlight recent publications on the topic. Comments and questions are readily encouraged to continue the conversation.
Kumler, Aden and Christopher Lakey. “Res et significatio: The Material Sense of Things in the Middle Ages.” Gesta 51.1 (Spring 2017): 1-17.