Beatrice Kitzinger: The Cross, the Gospels, and the Work of Art in the Carolingian Age

kitzinger2019

The Cross, the Gospels, and the Work of Art in the Carolingian Age

Cambridge University Press, 2019

In this book, Beatrice E. Kitzinger explores the power of representation in the Carolingian period, demonstrating how images were used to assert the value and efficacy of art works. She focuses on the cross, Christianity's central sign, which simultaneously commemorates sacred history, functions in the present, and prepares for the end of time. It is well recognized that the visual attributes of the cross were designed to communicate its theology relative to history and eschatology; Kitzinger argues that early medieval artists also developed a formal language to articulate its efficacious powers in the present day. Defined through form and text as the sign of the present, the image of the cross articulated the instrumentality of religious objects and built spaces. Whereas medieval and modern scholars have pondered the theological problems posed by representation, Kitzinger here proposes a visual argument that affirms the self-reflexive value of art works in the early medieval West. Introducing little-known sources, she re-evaluates both the image of the cross and the project of book-making in an expanded field of Carolingian painting.