Animism, Materiality, and Museums: How Do Byzantine Things Feel?

This book argues for the need to integrate museum-based experiential qualities into discussion of Byzantine art in order to reach fuller, deeper, more ethical explanations of this culture than are habitually given.


£24.95 ISBN-13: 9781641894678


Glenn Peers

Byzantine art is normally explained as devotional, historical, highly intellectualized, but this book argues for an experiential necessity for a fuller, deeper, more ethical approach to this art. Written in response to an exhibition the author curated at The Menil Collection in 2013, this monograph challenges us to search for novel ways to explore and interrogate the art of this distant culture. They marshal diverse disciplines—modern art, environmental theory, anthropology—to argue that Byzantine culture formed a special kind of Christian animism. While completely foreign to our world, that animism still holds important lessons for approaches to our own relations to the world. Mutual probings of subject and art, of past and present, arise in these essays—some new and some previously published—and new explanations therefore open up that will interest historians of art, museum professionals, and anyone interested in how art makes and remakes the world.



Part 1. Animate Materialities from Icon to Cathedral

Chapter 1. Showing Byzantine Materiality

Chapter 2. The Byzantine Material Symphony: Sound, Stuff, and Things

Part 2. Byzantine Things in the World: Animating Museum Spaces

Chapter 3. Prelude on Transfiguring Exhibition

Chapter 4. Transfiguring Materialities: Relational Abstraction in Byzantium and Its Exhibition

Chapter 5. Framing and Conserving Byzantine Art: Experiences of Relative Identity

Part 3. Pushing the Envelope, Breaking Out: Making, Materials, Materiality

Chapter 6. Angelic Anagogy, Silver, and Matter’s Mire

Chapter 7. Late Antique Making and Wonder

Chapter 8. Senses’ Other Sides