The International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA) is pleased to announce the 2017 Annual Book Prize is awarded to:
Ittai Weinryb, The Bronze Object in the Middle Ages: Sculpture, Material, Making
Cambridge University Press, 2016, ISBN 9781316402429
Ittai Weinryb’s The Bronze Object in the Middle Ages: Sculpture, Material, Making has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 book prize of the International Center of Medieval Art. Published in 2016 by Cambridge University Press, Weinryb’s monograph makes the case that the medieval bronze object is a coherent subject of study, identifying bronze as the material used for the most prestigious works of art in the medieval period. He brings to bear evidence for a multiplicity of objects through chapters on making, signifying, acting and being. This is a remarkably original approach to the notions and uses of bronze in the early and central Middle Ages. Addressing both the making and the reception of monumental works in bronze, he argues that new notions were developed to imagine ideas about public works of art – including the fascinating concept of sound as inherent in bronze –together with the relationship between artisanal techniques and divine actions. Weinryb interrogates how the newly introduced ancient philosophy, superstition and cosmology also affected ideas related to bronze works. Probing the interconnection between notions of divine and human creativity, his analysis invigorates the current art historical discussion concerning materiality and public monuments, particularly the public as the site of reception of works of art by a large audience. The book’s strength, however, is less in original discoveries than in the complex interpretation it provides, e.g. of the problem of the pagan history of the material or the relationship among alloys, alchemy, and idolatry. Weinryb invites the reader to consider such apparently unrelated aspects as technological developments, worship, pagan associations, Biblical hints at the use of bronze, belief in the magical agency of images, etc., as mutually interacting in giving shape to the experience and perception of bronze objects in the Middle Ages. All this makes Weinryb's book especially groundbreaking, and useful not only for specialists but also as a good pedagogical tool for students, given that it is written in an easily accessible style. The Bronze Object in the Middle Ages: Sculpture, Material, Making is truly thought-provoking in the best sense of the term.
Therese Martin, Chair, ICMA Annual Book Prize Jury