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234 × 156 × 12 mm
176 pages
86 illustrations, 13 in colour
01 Apr 1992
Essays in Art and Culture
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Image on the Edge The Margins of Medieval Art Michael Camille

What do they all mean – the lascivious ape, autophagic dragons, pot-bellied heads, harp-playing asses, arse-kissing priests and somersaulting jongleurs to be found protuding from the edges of medieval buildings and in the margins of illuminated manuscripts? Michael Camille explores that riotous realm of marginal art, so often explained away as mere decoration or zany doodles, where resistance to social constraints flourished.

Medieval image-makers focused attention on the underside of society, the excluded and the ejected. Peasants, servants, prostitutes and beggars all found their place, along with knights and clerics, engaged in impudent antics in the margins of prayer-books or, as gargoyles, on the outsides of churches. Camille brings us to an understanding of how marginality functioned in medieval culture and shows us just how scandalous, subversive and amazing the art of the time could be.

‘it brings us to looking at medieval manuscripts more and more closely, peering with pleasure into the borders of bunnies and monkeys, whether we seek deliberate smut or idle whimsy, it makes Image on the Edge well worth reading. It is an entirely diverting and unusual book.’ — The Art Newspaper

‘a handsome, entertaining account of the peculiar fashion for grotesque, obscene and humorous presences on the margins of medieval illuminateed manuscripts.’ — Times Higher Education

‘If the study of medieval art is not to remain an esoteric and elitist descipline then more books like this must be written.’ — Burlington Magazine

‘Camilles polymathic essays undoubtedly will provoke such studies and will expand the field of questions we ask . . . and in this he will have made a valuable contribution.’ — Oxford Art Journal

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Before his death in 2002, Michael Camille was Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago. His books include Image on the Edge (Reaktion, 1992), Mirror in Parchment (Reaktion, 1998) and The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art (1989).

1. Making Margins
2. In the Margins of the Monastery
3. In the Margins of the Cathedral
4. In the Margins of the Court
5. In the Margins of the City
6. The End of the Edge
List of Illustrations