icma at the Courtauld lecture series 2011-12

Meadows of Delight: Metaphor and Denial in Byzantine and Western Mediaeval Art

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

17.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

Mosaic of Virgin and Child with angel; and deer, birds and leaves in the border
Kiti, Panagia Angeloktistos, apse mosaic, border. Copyright Henry Maguire.

Speaker(s): Professor Henry Maguire (Department of the History of Art, Johns Hopkins University)
Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Dr Joanna Cannon

After the eighth century, motifs from nature, such as animals and plants, were more prominently displayed in Western churches than in those of the Byzantines, sometimes even appearing in the principal apses, in direct imitation of early Christian models. In Byzantium, there was a rich literary tradition of constantly repeated verbal and written metaphors drawn from nature, especially addressed to the Virgin. On the other hand, the art of Byzantine churches, while evoking the pleasures and powers of nature in certain contexts, often excluded all reference to it from holy images, including those of the Virgin. The root cause of this division between Eastern and Western art lay in contrasting attitudes toward the sacred image. In Byzantium, after iconoclasm, a fear of venerating nature lingered, complicating the visualization of metaphor and creating a constant tension between acceptance and denial. In the West, animals and plants lost much of their association with idolatry, becoming, instead, a language for understanding the divine.

This lecture is presented by The Courtauld Institute of Art in association with the International Center of Medieval Art, New York, and with the support of The Courtauld Institute of Art's Research Forum. The International Center of Medieval Art promotes the study of the visual arts of the Middle Ages in Europe. Its worldwide membership includes academics, museum professionals, students, and other enthusiasts. The lecture series 'ICMA at The Courtauld' is made possible through the generosity of Dr. William M. Voelkle.

The lecture will be followed by a reception sponsored by Sam Fogg.

ICMA publishes a scholarly journal Gesta, a newsletter, supports a website, and sponsors lectures and conference sessions.  email: ICMA@medievalart.org and web: http://www.medievalart.org.

Annual membership application forms for ICMA will be available at the lecture: Students $20 Others  (non-US) $70

Local arrangements:  Dr Joanna Cannon, The Courtauld Institute of Art, joanna.cannon@courtauld.ac.uk

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