Animism, Materiality, and Museums
How Do Byzantine Things Feel?
Amsterdam University Press
Byzantine art is normally explained as devotional, historical, highly intellectualized, but this book argues for an experiential necessity for a fuller, deeper, more ethical approach to this art. Written in response to an exhibition the author curated at The Menil
Collection in 2013, this monograph challenges us to search for novel ways to explore and interrogate the art of this distant culture.
They marshal diverse disciplines—modern art, environmental theory, anthropology—to argue that Byzantine culture formed a special kind of Christian animism. While completely foreign to our world, that animism still holds important lessons for approaches to our own relations to the world. Mutual probings of subject and art, of past and present, arise in these essays—some new and some previously published—and new explanations therefore open up that will interest historians of art, museum professionals, and anyone interested in how art makes and remakes the world.
Glenn Peers is professor in the Department of Art and Music Histories at Syracuse University and professor emeritus in the Department of the History of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. He curated "Byzantine Things in the World" at The Menil Collection (Houston, TX) in 2013.