Rolf Toman and Thomas Paffen (eds): Ars Sacra

The print book strikes back

Christopher Menz


Ars Sacra: Christian Art and Architecture of the Western World from the Very Beginning up Until Today
edited by Rolf Toman and Thomas Paffen
h.f. Ullmann, $350 hb, 800 pp, 9783833151408


Who says printed books are dead and that the e-book is the future? Ars Sacra, weighing in at eleven kilos, with eight hundred pages and two thousand colour images, sets a new standard for the coffee-table book. While an iPad version would be lighter and not require a reinforced table, justice can only be done to this large-format book in printed form. Spanning late antiquity to the present, Ars Sacra presents the Christian artistic tradition through its greatest monuments and works of art. While many of the illustrations are familiar – Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque are well covered – the photographs are superb. Some buildings have multiple images and those from Poland and Russia, for instance, show the important regional architectural styles that developed away from the sphere of Rome.

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Christopher Menz

Christopher Menz

Christopher Menz is a former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia (2005–10) and in 2011–12 was Acting Director of The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne. Prior to these roles, he held curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia, and the National Gallery of Victoria, specialising in decorative arts. He has published extensively on the decorative arts, notably the design work of William Morris, and is a regular contributor to ABR.

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