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The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books
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The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books (Hardback)

£99.95
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Synopsis

Guided by Aristotelian theories, medieval philosophers believed that nature abhors a vacuum. Medieval art, according to modern scholars, abhors the same. The notion of horror vacui-the fear of empty space-is thus often construed as a definitive feature of Gothic material culture. In The Absent Image, Elina Gertsman argues that Gothic art, in its attempts to grapple with the unrepresentability of the invisible, actively engages emptiness, voids, gaps, holes, and erasures.



Exploring complex conversations among medieval philosophy, physics, mathematics, piety, and image-making, Gertsman explains how nothingness was understood in the medieval world and discusses the different forms that it takes: void, zero, and described by negation. With a special focus on murals and manuscripts, Gertsman studies these visually varied empty spaces. She considers the concept of nothingness in concert with the imaginary, investigates erasure and how it transforms an image, and looks at manuscripts that harbor holes and how they enact meaning for the viewer. These important factors, Gertsman argues, prompted profoundly inventive approaches to emptiness in late medieval visual culture, from ingenious images of the world's creation ex nihilo to figurations of absence as a replacement for the invisible forces of conception and death.



Innovative and challenging, this book will find its primary audience with students and scholars of art, religion, physics, philosophy, and mathematics. It will be particularly welcomed by those interested in phenomenological and cross-disciplinary approaches to the visual culture of the later Middle Ages.

Elina Gertsman is Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University and the author of the award-winning Worlds Within: Opening the Medieval Shrine Madonna, also published by Penn State University Press.

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