Simons, Madeleine A. Books

Une Introduction a L'art Du Moyen Age Pérégrinations
1997 0-7734-8599-6
This volume elucidates a paradox and an esoterism: how could a religion, aniconic and iconoclastic at its beginnings, produce a wealth of masterpieces in all the arts; and what can an abstruse iconography tell us about the interpretation of the Bible through the 12th century? Using inductive method and an interdisciplinary approach, starting in a New York museum, the reader undertakes an imaginary pilgrimage from Roman times to the Germanic empire and finally stops in Paris, in front of the St. Anne portal of Notre Dame. The first artifact is a 12th century Mosan triptych, whose images introduce all the themes pertaining to medieval art: architecture, technology, symbolic representation, mystical numbers, and narrative iconography. The second part studies monasticism from the desert hermits to the splendors of Cluny III. The island of Reichenau illustrates the evolution from the humble cells of Irish hermits to Carolingian, Ottonian, Romanesque and Baroque constructions. The last third of the book is devoted to exegesis, the indispensable key to interpreting an iconography as abstruse as the Eve of Autun or Saint-Denis stained glass windows. The portal of Notre Dame marks the onset of gothic art closely wedded to scholastic and scientific theology. In French