No single figure has been more often featured in Western art than Jesus Christ. Sculptures, particularly—though they have received less notice than paintings—provide some of the most moving representations in their capacity to show Christ alongside us in three-dimensional space.
In this “catalog for an imagined exhibition,” two prominent art historians—one from the Roman Catholic tradition, one from the Protestant tradition—offer a guided tour of fifty-two sculptures of Jesus Christ from throughout the Western world. The chronological scope of the selection ranges from the third century to the present, with the work of well-known sculptors featured alongside the work of less familiar artists who deserve more attention.
Along with lush, high-resolution photographs, each piece is accompanied by an essay that places it in context and brings it to life, so readers can experience the sculpture almost as vividly as they would in person. Those interested in devotional as well as artistic significance will find inspiration in the striking representations of Christ in his many forms: healer, sage, sovereign, and savior, from his humble yet majestic birth to his harrowing death and miraculous resurrection.
Joseph Antenucci Becherer is the director and curator of sculpture at the University of Notre Dame art museum. Formerly he was the founding director and curator of the sculpture program at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and professor of art history at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Henry Martin Luttikhuizen is professor of art history emeritus at Calvin University. He has coauthored and coedited several books on medieval and northern Renaissance art. Luttikhuizen also wrote numerous chapters for The History of Art: A Global View.
“Joseph Becherer and Henry Luttikhuizen have assembled a brilliant selection of sculpted images of Jesus that will inform and enrich students, travelers, art lovers, and anyone interested in the life of Christ. Accompanied by sensitive readings of the sculptures they have chosen, the selections span eleven countries and encompass nineteen different materials. There are many icons of the history of art, along with surprising and eye-opening examples that offer rich understandings of both the sculptor’s accomplishment and the meaning of the subject. I personally encountered some extraordinary works for the first time and enjoyed reading thoughtful and informed analyses of pieces I already knew quite well. This is a book worth owning and worth savoring.” — Judith W. Mann Saint Louis Art Museum
“Christ among Us accomplishes many wonderful goals. Its beautifully illustrated images provide aesthetic enjoyment as well as spirituality, as it surveys European religious masterpieces from early Christianity to the contemporary world. Learned commentary by the coauthors enriches the reader’s experience, even for Michelangelo, while introducing us all to works we ought to know better. Americans especially can rejoice at how many of these great images are close to home.” — Larry Silver University of Pennsylvania
“This is a moving and thoughtful book by two prominent and insightful scholar-curators. It consists of an enlightening introductory essay followed by entries for fifty-two sculptures showing representations of Christ ranging from tender images of the Madonna and child to mournful images of the Pietà and hopeful images of the resurrection. In effect, it is the accompanying catalog of an ideal exhibit exploring the theme of Christ as expressed through a distinctive art form. The book boasts an impressive chronological and geographic selection of art, introducing the reader to works by anonymous medieval artists as well as the familiar names of Donatello and Michelangelo. It even includes contemporary figures such as the Chinese artist Zhang Huan and the Spaniard Jaume Plensa. The insightful text should appeal to readers regardless of personal beliefs since ultimately, the book beautifully presents moving portrayals of humanity, godliness, and faith.” — A. Victor Coonin Rhodes College
“Christ among Us offers all students of religious art a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon select sculptures of Jesus created throughout the history of art. Art historians Becherer and Luttikhuizen join the growing group of transdisciplinary scholars studying the reception history of biblical art. Using art historical methodology in a traditional exhibition format of individual catalog entries, the reader studies individual sculptures within their historical and cultural contexts. In essence, this study serves as a mini handbook of sculptural images of Jesus ‘on exhibition’ within the covers of this lavishly illustrated and enjoyable book.” — Heidi J. Hornik Baylor University
“Masterfully curated! Joseph Becherer and Henry Luttikhuizen have produced a catalog that blends sensitive visual analysis with a deep knowledge of the histories, biographies, and distinct visual traditions that gave rise to these moving and memorable representations of Christ. While the exhibition itself may never happen, this book will surely serve as an important and inspiring resource for years to come.” — Katy Smith Abbott Middlebury College
“This collaborative project of two prominent art historians leads its readers on a visually rich and verbally edifying tour of sculpted representations of Christ through the centuries. From the first to the last, the curators of this imagined exhibition have selected outstandingly beautiful works that also exemplify a range of theological expressions. The result is a gorgeous book that inspires, teaches, and delights.” — Robin M. Jensen University of Notre Dame
CHOICE “An informative study of sculptural iconography of the life of Christ from the Annunciation to the Resurrection. . . . Recommended.”
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