Author(s): Rolf Toman
Christianity is the most widespread religion in the world. ARS SACRA pays the due tribute to its art and architecture; a comprehensive compendium presenting just under 2000 years of Christian art, from early Christianity to the present day, with an abundance of illustrations. These include high quality photographs in XXL-format, making this an opulent feast for the senses. This glorious tome impresses with the detail views specifically fitted for the format, which allows the viewer to come within grasp of the displayed objects, often even closer than in reality, and to leisurely indulge in the details. Excellently researched texts take the reader on a tour through the epochs and highlight the specific changes in the sacral art, architecture, and culture over the centuries. ARS SACRA as the standard work is all in one: fascinating glorious tome, comprehensive compendium, and substantial textbook.
In our technology-infatuated era, we've become accustomed to the idea that whatever is smaller and faster must surely be better.
The slim, omnipotent iPhone is obviously superior to the primitive rotary dial mechanisms that people once used. The whisper-thin laptop looks like an almost comical repudiation of the great beeping, flashing, wall-size computers of the early jet age.
These comparisons do not flatter the old stuff. Even books seem increasingly quaint, and imperiled. What, after all, can a book do for you that a computer or smart phone can't instantly outdo?
This Easter Sunday I am happy to say that I have an answer, one that perfectly suits the day's deeper meanings. It's a monumental book called "Ars Sacra," first published in late 2010, that weighs almost 22 pounds. Over its 800 pages, this miraculous achievement chronicles the art and architecture of Christianity from the gorgeous mosaics of antiquity all the way through to the computer-designed abstract stained glass cathedral windows of today.
It's the biggest book I've ever held -- certainly the biggest I've ever seen outside a museum or library (I had to wrestle a bit just to get it into the house). Unlike most glossy art books, "Ars Sacra" is less of a coffee table book than an actual coffee table. You could serve lunch on the thing. Yet you wouldn't want to, for though the golden, seemingly bejeweled cover would make a lovely tablecloth, what's inside is more beautiful still.
Here are delicate gilded paintings from 9th century Byzantine manuscripts, precious chalices from medieval Ireland, stave churches from 11th century Norway and painted statuary from the Romanesque period. In stunning photographs, we see the remarkably detailed figure of John the Baptist from a niche high on the Cathedral at Reims and Duccio's exquisite chronicle of Christ's Passion from the Cathedral of Siena.
And on it goes, each page m
Rolf Toman, studied philosophy and German language and literature. After several years of working as an editor for a large German publisher, he now is a freelance editor of books on art and art history. He lives and works in southern France. Prof. Dr. Rainer Warland, Freiburg, has taught Christian archeology and the history of Byzantine art at Freiburg University since 1995, after professorships in Gottingen and Halle. Prof. Dr. Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck, Bonn, has taught art history at the University of Bonn since 2008, with a focus on the art of the Middle Ages. Dr. Uwe Geese, Marburg, is a historian of art and culture with a doctorate on medieval relic cults. He works at the Liebighaus in Frankfurt am Main and has published numerous works, primarily on the history of Western sculpture. Prof. Dr. Bruno Klein, Dresden, has studied and taught in several European countries and in Latin America. Since 2000 he has been Professor of the Christian Art of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages in the Philosophy faculty at the Dresden University of Technology. Dr. Barbara Borngasser, Dresden, studied art history, Romance studies, and archeology in Berlin, Florence, and Salamanca. Numerous publications on the architecture of the modern era. Dr. Pablo de la Riestra, Nuremberg, studied fine art in Argentina, and has a doctorate in art history from Philipps University in Marburg. He is an architecture historian, illustrator, and photographer, and a visiting professor primarily at South American universities. Numerous publications in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Latin America. Dr. Maria-Christina Boerner, Rennes, studied German language and literature, art history, and journalism. Teaches at the University of Fribourg/Switzerland. Numerous publications on the art and literature of the 19th and 20th century. Prof. Dr. Bruno Boerner, Rennes, has taught in Fribourg/Switzerland, Lausanne, Kassel, and Dresden, and since 2009 has been Professor of Art History in Rennes. Numerous publications on sacred art and architecture. Achim Bednorz, Cologne, has been a photographer for publications on architecture and art history for over 20 years. He has made a name for himself as a specialist on sacred rooms. "