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The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 2nd Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226771878
ISBN-10: 0226771873
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Art historian Leo Steinberg is Benjamin Franklin Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include "Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art, Michelangelo's Last Paintings, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, " and "Encounters with Rauschenberg."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 426 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (January 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226771873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226771878
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By D. Rigas on March 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a visitor enters the nave of the Episcopal church I attend, his gaze is immediately drawn to the stark pentagonal brick wall behind the raised altar, and to the large cross on it with a life-size statue of a crucified Jesus, naked except for the loin cloth about his hips to satisfy the normal decency criteria of the Church. Although we do know that crucifixion victims were stripped of all their clothing, and that the Bible specifically describes the Roman soldiers gambling for Jesus' garments, good taste forbids us to show Jesus naked. Yet there was a time when this was not true.

This book examines the Renaissance period (14th to 16th century) when artists presented Jesus either completely naked or covered by a simple loincloth that accentuated a rigidly erect member. Three hundred beautiful plates show this state of undress of both the baby Jesus and of the dying or resurrected Christ. What caused the artists to break the normal decency codes, asks the author, and he advances various theories to answer his own question. The first half of the book was written in 1983 and is divided into two parts: the main analysis and 39 excursuses (appendices to you and me) that amplify various points made. The second half was written thirteen years later and presents the author's newer thoughts plus a detailed refutation of the arguments put forth by his critics.

The paintings examined in the book relate to three periods of Jesus' life: his infancy, his baptism, and his crucifixion.
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Format: Paperback
Several art historians of my acquaintance, experts in the period, say that this is the best art history book ever written. I'm not an expert, but I can say that it's terrific, and one of the few academic books that, at first reading, had me lying on my back on the floor with my feet in the air, laughing hysterically. Steinberg had the audacity to wonder, looking at a Renaissance painting, why is it that Jesus's male member is so, well, *prominent*? Instead of averting his eyes (which is what most of us would do) he started looking for other paintings with which to compare it, and lo and behold, he discovered lots of them where indeed the painter seems to be deliberately *accenting* a part of the anatomy which normally one would expect to be concealed. He concludes that the painters were trying to show that the son of God had become Incarnate as a man in the most literal sense. In that sense, what seems scandalous to us is simply a manifestation of Renaissance humanism.
Beyond the screamingly funny prose lies a serious argument, about the Renaissance, and the way to do art history. Finally, Steinberg teaches the reader's eye how to look at a painting.
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By Phil Coppa on November 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Steinberg's book is intriguing. He is much more knowledgable about Catholic theology and hagiography than most Catholics. The many samples of the art work referred to in his book give ample support to his thesis.

Be sure to get the second edition which includes responses to the critiques of the first edition.

This book is really amazing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book remains timely for the student of theology or one who wishes to expand the mind beyond the mundane . The art is beautiful even if the premise is uncomfortable. FPB Ann Arbor
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