PRINT September 1988


The scriptures can be understood as narratives about created objects that enable the major created object, namely God, to describe the interior structure of all making. . . .

—Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain

IN 1984, AT THE CLOISTERS, New York, the young artist Christian Eckart came across a catalogue on the Santa Croce Crucifix, a late-13th-century cross, attributed to Cimabue, which had been damaged in the Arno floods of 1966. After about of restoration, the cross had toured the world, inviting reverence at the various stations on its road, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eckart wondered what it all meant. Such ritualized recoveries and restorations of ancient artifacts, and the pilgrimages made by all sorts of people to see them, reflect a pervasive phenomenon: the cultural reestimation of the icon. One aspect of this is the iconophilic hysteria that so regularly accompanies

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