Byzantine Things in the World

Byzantine Things in the World

Edited by Glenn Peers, with additional contributions by Charles Barber, Stephen Caffey, Henri Franses, Caitlin Haskell, James Rodriguez, Richard Shiff, Shannon Steiner, Susan Sutton, and Robin K. Williams
8 1/4 × 10 3/4 inches
192 pages

Published 2013


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This enlightening book makes an object-based argument to overturn the normative understanding of Byzantine “art” through material investigation, historical recovery, and hermeneutic clearing; it argues that art is the wrong category for objects made by and for Medieval Greek Christians. Volume editor and principal essayist Glenn Peers proposes that Byzantine thinkers viewed and experienced “things” such as clay pilgrim tokens, relief stamps, and icons of saints as dynamic and alive, fully capable of acting in the world. He puts the Menil’s Byzantine holdings in a provocative web of analogies with other things—a Kongo nkondi figure, a Nuu-chah-nulth mask, and contemporary artworks by artists like James Lee Byars, Donald Judd, and Yves Klein—to advance this assertion, which is given context by related, complementary, and even antagonistic positions by art historians with various specialties.

About the Authors
Glenn Peers is a professor of early medieval and Byzantine art at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Sacred Shock: Framing Visual Experience in Byzantium (2004) and Subtle Bodies: Representing Angels in Byzantium (2001).

Additional texts by: Charles Barber, professor of medieval art history at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana; Stephen Caffey, assistant professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, College Station; Henri Franses, associate professor of art history at the American University of Beirut; Caitlin Haskell, assistant curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; James Rodriguez, graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; Richard Shiff, Effie Marie Cain regents chair in art at the University of Texas at Austin; Shannon Steiner, graduate student at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania; Susan Sutton, curatorial assistant at the Menil Collection; and Robin Williams, graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin