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humblingly beautiful

By Leila Marie Lawler (articles ) | Mar 29, 2004

A rumpled mattress on the gallery floor doesn't elicit the comment "humblingly beautiful" from the NY Times art section, as seriously as they take that kind of thing.

But the exhibit "Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has Michael Kimmelman awed and eloquent.

His Friday review of the exhibit is a short course in Byzantine history and iconography. It's worth reading. Here's a high point, somewhat unexpected, as I say, from this particular source:

... icons held the "presence" of Christ or the Virgin or the saints, as if in a kind of limbo, waiting to be activated by the fervor of the faithful.

That is what mother and child in the Cambrai Madonna are waiting for. They are waiting for us.

Check out the slide show (on the toolbar at the right of the story -- "multimedia") for the Gerard David "Virgin and Child," a luminous miniature that justifiably has Kimmelman in rapture by the end of his article.

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