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Word Becomes Image: Openwork vessels as a reflection of Late Antique transformation
Author: Hallie G. Meredith. x+279 pages; illustrated throughout in black & white. 160 2015. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784911294. Epublication ISBN 9781784911300.
Book contents page
Transformation presents a diachronic investigation providing a rich case study as well as an approach tracing the contours of a category of Roman material culture defined by the Roman period technique of openwork carving. As the first comprehensive assemblage of openwork vessels from Classical to late Antiquity, this work offers primary evidence documenting a key example of the fundamental shift from naturalism to abstraction in which inscriptions are transformed and word becomes image. A glass blower herself, Hallie Meredith poses questions about process, tactility and reception providing a clear picture of the original contexts of production and reception demonstrated by the Roman technique of openwork carving. In an in-depth analysis of the corpus as a whole, typologies (old and new), imagery, geometric patterning and inscriptions as the major divisions among openwork decorative elements, basic design principles are identified, non openwork carving and its relation to openwork decoration are discussed, as are the function, handling, display, movement and provenance of openwork vessels throughout the Roman Empire. Art historians and archaeologists working on the transition from Classical to late Antiquity, as well as scholars focusing on these and later periods of study, can fruitfully apply this approach to visual culture. This work shows how openwork vessels are a reflection of a wide-reaching Roman cultural aesthetic.



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