The tragic climax to the Gospel stories, the Crucifixion of Christ is the pivotal event of Christianity. In theological terms, it is God's sacrifice of Himself to redeem mankind; in human terms, it is the ultimate tragedy and a strikingly evocative symbol of suffering and human sacrifice. As Christianity's supreme image, the Crucifixion has been endlessly represented by artists throughout the centuries. This volume presents a chronological sequence of over 100 of the finest Crucifixion images produced by a selection of the greatest artists in the Christian tradition, ranging from the earliest catacomb art to the late twentieth century. The subject is always the same, the means of representing it always different in mood and medium, style and scale. Perusing this powerful volume, the reader is taken on a prolonged meditation, focusing on the universal themes of suffering, sacrifice and redemption, and reflecting on the breathtaking power of art to transcend its grim subject matter and to create out of it works of compelling beauty.
Sparing in words, stark and simple in presentation, this book is all the more eloquent: a dynamically moving and inspiring commentary on divine and human loss and gain, and on the mysterious power of art to capture and express religious feeling through the extremes of human emotion. Like its companion volumes Annunciation, Descent and Last Supper, Crucifixion presents a focused meditation on a single theme that is infinitely rich, allowing the viewer to appreciate the nuances of character and the endless skill with which artists have created new masterpieces out of old materials. Whether one focuses on the religious mystery, the human drama or the marvellous skill of the artist, these uncluttered and simply presented works of art provide endless food for thought and contemplation.
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(156mm x 136mm x 28mm)
Phaidon Press Ltd
Publisher: Phaidon Press Ltd
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UK Kirkus Review »
Phaidon's pocket-size yet chunky book is a compilation of approximately 120 colour reproductions of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in chronological order commencing with an ivory relief from the fifth century (when images of the crucifixion first appeared) and finishing with Craigie Aitchison's 'The Crucifixion', painted in 1997-98. The images range from the romantic to the harrowingly real. The book carries no unifying text by a specific author, but some of the reproductions are embellished by a brief narrative on the opposite page. Against Lovis Corinth's 'The Large Martyrdom', for example, is written 'the twentieth century once more saw a concentration on the physical horrors of the crucifixion, the emphisis in Lovis Corinth's disturbing image is less on redemption and salvation than man's inhumanity to man'. Salvador Dali's renowned 'Christ of Saint John of the Cross', the crucifixion seen from above, is included and also warrants a short narrative, but there is no narrative attached to paintings by Titian, Goya, Blake, Redon, Ernst and Spencer, to name but a few, nor to the photographic print by Robert Mapplethorpe. This inconsistency can be seen as a flaw, raising the question in the mind of the reader, 'why are some works endowed with narratives and not others?' Furthermore, a reader not familiar with a particular artist would surely welcome some narrative detail, however brief. Containing some powerful and startling paintings, the book is nevertheless ideal to thumb through. (Kirkus UK)
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