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Author Walker, Alicia Wilcox
Title Exotic elements in Middle Byzantine secular art and aesthetics: 843--1204 C.E
book jacket
Descript 645 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 65-05, Section: A, page: 1573
Adviser: Ioli Kalavrezou
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Harvard University, 2004
Secular objects and monuments produced at the middle Byzantine court at Constantinople have long been noted for their inclusion of Greco-Roman and late antique stylistic and iconographic types. During the early and mid twentieth century, this material was commonly interpreted according to a rubric of Hellenistic or classical "renaissance." Although scholars in the mid and later twentieth century expressed dissatisfaction with the renaissance paradigm, no alternate interpretive model has been broadly accepted. Andre Grabar acknowledged that the renaissance rubric obscured the role played by a small but important group of middle Byzantine works of art that indicate a different source of inspiration, that of the Islamic and Sasanian worlds. Grabar introduced the notion of artistic "eclecticism" to characterize Byzantium's simultaneous deployment of classical and foreign motifs, particularly in secular art produced for the court elite. He judged the predilection for "orientalizing" art to be localized in "ornament." Foreign styles and motifs were considered devoid of meaning; at most they expressed a topos of luxury associated with the rare and exotic
This dissertation further substantiates Grabar's claims for the popularity of foreign artistic sources at the middle Byzantine court and expands his notion of eclecticism by demonstrating how exotic motifs play a semantic role in the programs of specific works of art, thereby revealing the impact of foreign sources beyond the merely decorative. By more fully incorporating exoticizing objects into the canon of middle Byzantine secular art, a more complex dynamic of artistic appropriation emerges, one which demonstrates an active reworking of diverse stylistic, thematic, and semantic sources
The objects and monuments considered range in date from the ninth to the early thirteenth century and represent a diversity of media, including ivory, metalwork, textiles, lead seals, enamel, manuscripts, and architectural decoration. Although interpretation emphasizes the diversity and flexibility of Byzantine engagement with foreign artistic elements, some chronological patterns in the use of non-Byzantine sources are suggested. Attitudes toward foreign art and the cultures it represents are paralleled to shifting relationships between Byzantium and various Islamic polities during the middle Byzantine period
School code: 0084
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 65-05A
Subject Art History
History, Medieval
Alt Author Harvard University
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