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The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals: Decoding the Sacred Symbolism of Christianity's Holy Buildings Hardcover – January 1, 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
"Secret Language" is a Richard Stemp's gorgeous, very well-researched and exquisitely photographed study of the theological themes that pervade church art and architecture. Better still, it is written by a person who is at once sympathetic to the stories and knowledgeable about them. We begin to understand obvious aspects of churches - like their mass, height and upward direction as suggesting the solidity of church and their desire to direct our inner gaze upward to God. Sounding boards above pulpits not only focus the preacher's words to the congregation, but signal that the word itself is worth listening to. Accompanying the descriptions are photos of some of the most beautiful churches to be found. Because of the flourishing of church decorating during these periods, there is a fuller focus on the Romanesque, medieval and baroque periods. But there are a few modern churches in the book as well, including and the Crystal Cathedral in LA and my beloved Trinity Church in Boston.
Stemp also probes the meanings of many of the world's famous paintings and altarpieces. These include Grunewald's gruesome Isenheim altarpiece, with its greenish, poxed Christ presiding over a hospital chapel. The Van Eyck's Ghent altarpiece is also beautifully rendered and its main details parsed out.Read more ›
Everything about this book is exceptional, from the quality of the writing to the quality of the paper. It even has a ribbon bookmark. When is the last time you saw one of those?
Not only is the book a joy to read because of its stunning illustrations and elegant language, but Stemp's attention to detail priovides the reader wiuth a deeper insight into many of the things we take for granted when we look into our great churches.
Covering not only among other things as things as gargoyles and columnar statuary, but also the paintings that adorn the altars and walls, the author deftly provides a narrative to the accomplishments of centuries of inspired artisans.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting subject matter. However, a good amount of subject matter wasn't covered: e.g. stained glass windows, symbols used by the early churches on tiles, graves, mosaics, etc.Published 2 months ago by Stephen P. Syrjamaki
Gave this as a gift to my Mom & she loves it. Very pleased with purchase. Delivery was a day late but I was notified & it got here in plenty of time for when I needed it. Read morePublished on January 23, 2012 by Ckane