“Making Medieval Modern”
November 29, 2012, 7:30 p.m.
Bixler Art and Music Building – Given Auditorium
Zodiaque, a publishing venture undertaken after the Second World War by a Benedictine abbey in France, affected perceptions of medieval European medieval art for art historians around the world as well as for the general art book-buying public. Although carried out in the twentieth-century, it centered primarily on Romanesque art. Illustrated with distinctive black-and-white photogravures, Zodiaque books became hugely successful and raised the bar for art history photography. These images now stand as both documentary photographs of medieval art and architecture, capturing the condition of works on the date they were recorded, as well as artworks in their own right that evoked a fresh aesthetic appreciation for the original monuments they picture. Indeed, how the very stylistic term, “Romanesque,” is used today is largely due to the popularity of one particular series and many formerly unknown medieval sites that now figure prominently in art history courses owe their recognition to the coverage they received in these books. This lecture will examine the Zodiaque project as an example of how we construct images of the past to fit contemporary needs.
Janet Marquardt holds the rank of Distinguished Professor at Eastern Illinois University where she has taught since receiving her Ph.D. in medieval art history from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1986. Besides numerous presentations and articles, she is author of the thematic textbook Frames of Reference: Art, History, and the World (with Stephen Eskilson, McGraw-Hill 2004), as well as a monograph on the post-Revolutionary history of the ruins at Cluny entitled From Martyr to Monument: The Abbey of Cluny as Cultural Patrimony (2007/2009).