BULGARIA: Medieval Wall Paintings by Unesco World Art Series

BULGARIA: Medieval Wall Paintings

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the seventeenth volume in an extraordinary series, covering masterpieces of the world hitherto in areas relatively unknown outside the field of specialists. While we have actually reported on only around six or seven (Mexico; Japan; Czechoslovakia; Greece; Israel; Ethiopia and the current volume) that has been enough to demonstrate to us the achievement, not only in the superb plates, but in the excellent introductory texts. In the present volume editors Andre Grabar and Krsto Mijatev have provided an historical background which gives brief but pertinent survey of the history, the people, the religion and culture, and the types of art that flourished. That today there survives little outside churches and monasteries still serves to demonstrate the increasing variety of subjects (not only religious but portraits of founders of both churches and monasteries, and one extraordinary portrait of a holy warrior (dating back to 1259). Since these ancient Byzantine chapels were small, they frequently represent the work of one artist. Presented here in chronological order, source by source, they convey a sense of the development and the reflection of the unity of culture, historical events, and social and economic backgrounds of the feudal aristocracy and the church that sponsored the artists. Unlike some contemporary art, the arts of Bulgaria and the Byzantine cultures developed along parallel lines, and leaned definitely towards realism rather than abstractions, through the period when art flourished- the 12th to the 15th centuries. Every petty ruler patronized art in his domain. The examples (32 here) convey a lively sense of the achievements. This volume is a difficult size -- but worth the effort to find a place for it (13(apple) x 19).

Publisher: The New York Graphic Society