by Christina Maranci. Oxford University Press, September 2018. 272 p. Ill. ISBN 9780190269005 (h/c), $39.95.
Reviewed July 2019
Annalise Welte, Reference Librarian, Getty Research Institute Library, firstname.lastname@example.org
Christina Maranci delivers an important and successful contribution to publications on Armenian art. The Art of Armenia: an Introduction offers a detailed history of Armenian art from the ancient Armenian Highlands through to a modern perspective. A wide variety of information coupled with thoughtful analysis provides a complex yet accessible text. The preface of the book acknowledges its aim: Maranci recognizes a need for a concise, introductory guide to the rich and lengthy history of Armenian art, and she accomplishes this goal.
Through examples of a wide variety of art and architecture, including textiles, sculpture, and khatchkars (Armenian cross-stones), Maranci explores not just what comprises Armenian art, but also explores intention and meaning informed by history and religion. While exploring theories and referencing literature and opinions from top scholars in the field (e.g. Thomas Mathews, Helen Evans) Maranci poses thoughtful questions. This dialectic is engaging, guiding you through the centuries.
Clearly relevant to scholars focused on Armenia and the Caucasus region, this book establishes that Armenian culture and history is important for scholars of many specialties and backgrounds through the understanding of the development of material techniques, artistic practices, trade routes, and international exchange throughout the ages. The conversion to Christianity and religious impact on the arts and culture of Armenia are key to deciphering iconography and artistic imagery.
History, religious tradition, craftsmanship, and artistic materials and techniques all come together in this masterful introduction to the art of Armenia. This publication would benefit academic libraries and art libraries; it is an accessible and concise text to introduce students to Armenia and its art while having a high level of scholarship. The volume includes color and black and white illustrations, floor plans, and maps. A note on the transliteration of Classical Armenian into the Latin alphabet is included, giving those not familiar with the language key tools to engage with Armenian names and titles, as well as introducing them to the unique letters of the Armenian alphabet.