What do they all mean - the lascivious apes, autophagic dragons, pot-bellied heads, harp-playing asses, arse-kissing priests and somersaulting jongleurs to be found protruding from the edges of medieval buildings and in the margins of illuminated manuscripts? Michael Camille explores that riotous realm of marginal art so often explained away as mere decoration or zany doodles. He shows that the true nexus of innovation in the art of the time is not to be found where so many have sought it - within the heavily conventionalized centre - but on the edge, where resistance to medieval social constraints flourished.
Medieval image-makers focused attention on the underside of society, the excluded and the ejected. These peasants, servants, prostitutes and beggars all found their place, along with knights and clerics, engaged in impudent antics in the margins of prayer-books or, as gargoyles, on the outsides of churches. Camille brings us to an understanding of how marginality functioned in medieval culture and shows us just how scandalous, subversive and amazing the art of the time could be.
Michael Camille is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Chicago.
1st edition 1992, Pb, 176pp, 86 illustrations, 13 in full colour, 15.5 x 21.8 cm