Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum by Amy Knight Powell, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum

Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum

by Amy Knight Powell
     
 

From late medieval reenactments of the Deposition from the Cross to Sol Lewitt's Buried Cube, Depositions is about taking down images and about images that anticipate being taken down. Foretelling their own depositions, as well as their re-elevations in contexts far from those in which they were made, the images studied in this book reveal themselves

Overview

From late medieval reenactments of the Deposition from the Cross to Sol Lewitt's Buried Cube, Depositions is about taking down images and about images that anticipate being taken down. Foretelling their own depositions, as well as their re-elevations in contexts far from those in which they were made, the images studied in this book reveal themselves to be untimely—no truer to their first appearance than to their later reappearances.

In Depositions, Amy Powell makes the case that late medieval paintings and ritual reenactments of the Deposition from the Cross not only picture the deposition of Christ (the Imago Dei) but also allegorize the deposition of the image as such and, in so doing, prefigure the lowering of "dead images" during the Protestant Reformation. Late medieval pre-figurations of Reformation iconoclasm anticipate, in turn, the repeated "deaths" of art since the advent of photography: that is the premise of the vignettes devoted to twentieth-century works of art that conclude each chapter of this book.

In these vignettes, images that once stood in late medieval churches now find themselves among works of art from the more recent past with which they share certain formal characteristics. These surreal encounters compel us to reckon with affinities between images from different times and places.

Turning pseudomorphosis—formal resemblance where there is no similarity of artistic intent — on its head, Powell explores what happens to our understanding of historically and conceptually distant works of art when they look alike.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Powell's Depositions has the capacity to change the terms of debate in art history in fundamental and necessary ways." — Caroline Walker Bynum, Common Knowledge

Library Journal
The deposition, Christ's body being taken down from the cross, is frequently depicted in Western art. Powell (art history, Univ. of California, Irvine) considers deposition paintings as allegories for their own eventual removal from public spaces, and examines the similarities between tombs and museums. She draws on the phenomenon of pseudomorphosis, when works that share no similarity of intent or history formally resemble one another, to encourage art historians to step away from a chronological analysis of who-did-what-first and instead to embrace a nonlinear understanding of art. "Works of art do not belong to their makers," she says; they are too "promiscuous to remain faithful to the author's intent." VERDICT All of the pieces illustrated in the book are timeless—including the contemporary works—because they acknowledge human mortality and connect their audience to something indefinably bigger. An enjoyable intellectual exercise that will leave readers with much to ponder.—Nadine Dalton Speidel, Cuyahoga Cty. P.L., Parma, OH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781935408208
Publisher:
Zone Books
Publication date:
03/16/2012
Pages:
376
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Amy Knight Powell is Assistant Professor in Art History at the University of California, Irvine.

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