Mike Aquilina

The Art Byzness

Friday February 22nd 2008, 3:04 am

Reviewed in Bryn Mawr Classical Review:

Liz James, Art and Text in Byzantine Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Liz James begins her introduction to Art and Text in Byzantium by saying that the interface between the two is one of the oldest issues in art history. She continues by asking if art can stand alone or if it is always expressed in the written and the oral, making it thereby exposed to subjective interpretation. In Byzantium, says James, the very security of the state depended on the right interface between images and words, and, “above all, Christ, the Word of God.” The Empire was the only major world power that experienced political mayhem resulting from arguments about art. Iconoclasm and the accompanying debates about religious images established “the place of art in society and the relationship of art to words.” James concludes her introduction to the essays that follow stating that although art and text may influence each other the contributors to the volume “seek to explore the complexities of the relationship.” This relationship between images and words is the unifying theme of the work…

Read more. Hat tip: David Meadows.