Medieval Art and Medievalisms

September 7, 2004 – January 2, 2005

Installation view

Installation view

From the Early Christian material culture of Egypt and the Eastern Roman empire and the devotional art of Gothic Europe to the Celtic revival of the nineteenth century, medieval art shifted from iconic religious image to historical tribute.

Drawn from the Smart Museum's holdings, this exhibition looked at key moments in this thousand-year transformation of use and meaning. The trajectory of this appropriation is complex, and nineteenth-century paintings, sculptures, graphic works, and decorative objects, as well as imagery in the new medium of photography, frequently placed this hallowed past in the service of modern artistic, social, and nationalist ideologies.

A highlight of the exhibition was the decorative pieces from the Smart's important group of Celtic Revival metalwork, originally shown at one of the two Irish pavilions at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.