Monday, July 9, 2012

Lynne Jacobs' 'Opening Doors'

Posted By on Mon, Jul 9, 2012 at 8:56 AM


University of Arkansas professor Lynn F. Jacobs, who teaches medieval, Italian renaissance, Northern renaissance and baroque art, has published a book on medieval painting, "Opening Doors: The Early Netherlandish Triptych Reinterpreted." The Pennsylvania State Press (why not the UA press?) book is available on Amazon for $94.95 (it's not cheap to publish a 357-page hardback with color plates on such a specialized subject).

An excerpt from the U of A press release on the book:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A book by a University of Arkansas professor examines the evolution of the triptych format from medieval to early modern times in paintings produced in the region of present-day Belgium and Holland. Lynn F. Jacobs, professor of art in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, focuses on the notions of thresholds and their meaning in early Netherlandish art in her latest research. This work culminated in the publication of Opening Doors: The Early Netherlandish Triptych Reinterpreted (Pennsylvania State Press), which has garnered a great deal of praise.

“Offering an impressive survey of this great artistic achievement, Opening Doors truly lives up to its name and contributes fresh new interpretations,” said Larry Silver of the University of Pennsylvania. “Scholars and their students will use this book as a standard work for many years to come.”

“Admirably broad in its sweep — from Jan van Eyck to Peter Paul Rubens — this book tackles a fundamentally important question: how the form of the triptych affected its meaning,” said Diane Wolfthal of Rice University. “This book will undoubtedly have a major impact on the field.”

The term "triptych," meaning a painting or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together so that the side panels could open and close, did not exist during the period covered in Jacobs’s book. Contemporary French, German and Latin terms refer to the form as “a painting with doors.”

Jacobs’ book, published in late 2011, is attracting more than just the attention of her scholastic peers. A New York artist wrote to Jacobs that he was “visiting Paris and came upon your fascinating book, Opening Doors, in the book shop of the Louvre. It was displayed prominently in a section on art history. It's a beautiful book and I particularly liked your concept of ‘painting with doors.’”

Opening Doors is the first comprehensive interpretation of the early Netherlandish triptych. Jacobs argues that the physical characteristics of the medium establish divisions and distinct spaces, creating boundaries as well as interactions between the center and wings that help generate meaning within the works.

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