Art + Christianity Award (2)

I am now pasting the portion of my speech, which dealt with the other books on the shortlist, because it was a very strong shortlist and difficult to choose a winner:-

• Jonathan A Anderson and William Dyrness’s book Modern Art and the Life of a Culture, published by the Intervarsity Press.   We all liked and admired it:  clear, authoritative, scholarly and wide-ranging.

• T J Clark’s brilliant, thought-provoking, beautifully written and powerful book, Heaven on Earth, published by (and, incidentally, beautifully produced by) Thames & Hudson.   We loved it:  a major book written with great passion.  

• Tom Crow’s No Idols: The Missing Theology of Art, published by Power Polemics in Australia:  a book by an art historian, who is the former Director of the Getty Research Institute, now at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York;  a very thoughtful and reflective book.

• Neil MacGregor’s Living with the Gods, published, and like the Clark book, beautifully produced by Allen Lane, in conjunction with the BBC:  an extraordinarily authoritative, wide-ranging, lucid survey of imagery by a great public advocate for looking at, and thinking about, the characteristics of imagery of different faiths.

• Chloë Reddaway’s Strangeness and Recognition, published by Brepols, a model of its kind: thoughtful, deeply serious, and about the central issue of the relationship between theology and image-making.

• Ittai Weinryb’s Agents of Faith, published by Yale University Press on behalf of the Bard Graduate Center Gallery in New York, is a book which is different in kind and character from the other books, because it is multi-author, written by a wide range of international scholars who collaborated over a long period of time in writing about the nature of votive objects in different historical and cultural arenas, in advance of an exhibition held at the Bard Center a year ago.   As we talked about the book and discussed its many virtues, including its sense of intellectual authority and academic coherence, it became clear that we all admired it hugely for its originality, its wide compass, and the fact that it was an exhibition catalogue which, somewhat unusually for an exhibition catalogue, makes a major scholarly contribution to its subject.

• We agreed to award the prize to Itaai Weinryb as the book’s general editor and he flew over from New York especially to collect the award.


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