Lena Liepe: Medieval Iconography: Means and Methods for the Interpretation of Medieval Images

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In the MIMM project, seventeen Nordic scholars are engaged as contributors to a collection of essays on the interpretation of medieval images. The project is motivated by a wish to reassess the scholarly tradition of iconographic analysis that has formed a cornerstone in the study of medieval art ever since the double notion of iconography and iconology as interpretative levels of meaning in works of art was codified by Erwin Panofsky in 1939. From the early 1990s onwards, iconographic scholarly pursuit in the tradition of Panofsky has been exposed to a growing amount of criticism for being too text focussed in its alleged equation of iconographic interpretation with the finding out of what textual source an image refers to, and too simplistic in its negligence of factors such as medium specific modes of visual communication, and the actual historical circumstances of the production and reception of images. Nevertheless, iconography remains one of the staple ingredients of the study of medieval art, and demands consideration as a feature of continuing revelance in the theoretical landscape of the discipline.

In the MIMM project, the assets and pitfalls of iconography as an analytical approach are reviewed in light of current theoretical and methodological concerns, and a number of proposals for how it might be applied—or not—are made in the form of case studies. The essays represent a spectrum of stances towards iconography, ranging from the affirmative to the rather more sceptical; common for all, however, is the ambition to examine if and how iconographic analysis can be brought up to date and applied for interpretative purposes in a form that answers to today’s theoretical and methodological requirements. The majority of the essays are devoted to topics related to the art of the Latin West, but in order to expand the scope of the volume beyond the limits, geographically and culturally, that are all too often applied in the study of medieval art, a special effort has been made also to include studies of Islamic iconography.


Concent: Preliminary titles

Margrete Syrstad Andås: “Meaning before iconography. The pre-iconographical level in the interpretation of imagery”

Rognald Bergesen: “Iconology and quadriga

Jan von Bonsdorff: “Representations of clouds, fog, and motion blur: Staging pictorial conventions”

Ragnhild Bø: “Looking at the ladies. Representations of Jeanne de France, the Virgin, and St. Anne in the Lamoignon Hours, ca. 1415”

Ingvild Flaskerud: “When iconography meets etnography: Methodological and theoretical reflection on the study of contemporary iconography in Shia Islam”

Kjartan Hauglid: “Islam and Romanesque architectural decoration in the 11th century”

Martin Wangsgaard Jürgensen: “Image and space – liturgy and iconography”

Søren Kaspersen: “Iconography and anthropology: A re-evaluation of the Panofskian model with a philosophic-anthropological approach”

Hans Henrik Lohfert Jørgensen: “The multimodality of medieval imagery:
Towards an intermedial and intersensorial concept of image”

Henning Laugerud: “Memories of symbols – the symbols of memory. Iconology and/as mnemology”

Lena Liepe: “Iconography, iconology and the locus of meaning in medieval art: Two hundred years of scholarship”

Maria Husabø Oen: “Image – body – vision: Imagery and visuality in St. Birgitta’s world”

Laura Katrine Skinnebach: “Iconology, the Period Eye and the Episteme”

Elina Räsänen: “Subject of representation: Art in late-medieval imagery”

Margrethe C. Stang: “A saint and his dragon: An iconographical problem”

Karin Ådahl: “The iconography of the Shah u Gada: Reading the miniature paintings of a sixteenth century Persian Poem”

Kristin Bliksrud Aavitsland: “The power of powerless images in early Protestant culture”