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Blood, guts and mortality: the unique convergence of fleshliness and devotion in medieval art
Anatomical oddities abound in medieval artworks: headless saints who walk around seemingly unperturbed by such injuries, distinctly yonic wounds and a depiction of Jesus being crushed like a grape are only a few examples of the medieval artist's intriguing perception of the world.The result of the University of Amsterdam's multiyear research project on representations of the human body in late medieval art, Body Language is at once a collection of surprising artworks and a reflection on the role of the human body in a devotional context. From 1300 to 1500, artists participated in a culture that emphasized the crudest, most human elements of the Biblical stories depicted, blood, guts and all. Featuring a beautiful die-cut cover, this volume demonstrates the raw passion and vivid theological beliefs conveyed through illustrations that may now be considered disturbing or bizarre. From severed heads to sensual relics, bearded ladies to wandering genitals, this lively and richly illustrated book animates the intersection between medieval understandings of the body and the materiality of Catholic devotion with a wit and playfulness that will surely appeal to students, scholars, and general readers alike. -Marisa Anne Bass, Yale University