Binski, Paul 1956–
Binski, Paul 1956–
PERSONAL: Born November 9, 1956, in London, England; son of Eugene (an engineer) and Pamela Binski. Ethnicity: "Anglo-Polish." Education: Cambridge University, B.A., 1979, M.A., 1982, Ph.D., 1984.
CAREER: Yale University, New Haven, CT, assistant professor of art history, 1988–91; Victoria University of Manchester, Manchester, England, lecturer in art history, 1991–95; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, lecturer in art history and fellow of Caius College, 1995–.
MEMBER: College Art Association of America, Association of Art Historians (England).
The Painted Chamber at Westminster, Society of Antiquaries of London (London, England), 1986.
(With Jonathan Alexander) Age of Chivalry: Art in Plantagenet England, 1200–1400 (exhibition catalog), Royal Academy of Arts/Weidenfeld and Nicolson (London, England), 1987.
(With Christopher Norton and David Park) Dominican Painting in East Anglia: The Thornham Parva Retable and the Musée de Cluny Frontal, Boydell (Woodbridge, England), 1987.
Painters, British Museum Press (London, England), 1991.
Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation, British Museum Press (London, England), 1996.
(Editor, with Marcia Pointon) Image, Music, Text, Blackwell (Cambridge, MA), 1996.
(Editor, with William Noel) New Offerings, Ancient Treasures: Studies in Medieval Art for George Henderson, Sutton (Thrupp, England), 2001.
Becket's Crown: Art and Imagination in Gothic England, 1170–1300, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2004.
(Editor, with Stella Panayotova) The Cambridge Illuminations: Ten Centuries of Book Production in the Medieval West (exhibition catalog), Harvey Miller (London, England), 2005.
Associate editor, Art History.
SIDELIGHTS: British art historian Paul Binski has primarily been interested in the Gothic period in Europe and in the eleventh through sixteenth centuries in England. For example, Becket's Crown: Art and Imagination in Gothic England, 1170–1300 surveys the cultural history of art in that time period, and is thus "the first synoptic analysis of English thirteenth-century art for nearly fifty years," according to Paul Crossley in the Art Bulletin. Crossley went on to write that Binski's text is "unashamedly revisionist" in its author's "view of medieval culture at once religious, hierarchical, and centrist." The influence of religion on art of the period is discussed, thus relegating royalty and the bourgeoisie to the sidelines as religious leaders such as Thomas Becket loom large. Their personal examples of good, moral conduct is of central importance to their society and, consequently, art of the time. Crossley concluded: "Binski has breathed new life into the notion of artistic 'context.' In a book sensitively and intelligently designed and lavishly illustrated, we are taken back into the 'imaginative universe' of thirteenth-century clerical England with a vividness and intellectual energy rarely encountered in modern medieval studies."
Receiving even more critical attention was Binski's Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation. Before Christian ideals about death and resurrection became prominent, cultures such as those of the Roman and Jewish traditions saw the body of the dead as corrupt, and so it is not depicted in their visual arts. With changing concepts of death in medieval Europe, however, there also came extraordinary changes in burial practices and in the art of tombs, paintings, and other representations of death. Binski draws on a variety of research sources to reveal the origins and evolution of medieval concepts of death, "usefully showing how revolutionary Christianity was in its attitudes towards death," reported Janet Burton in the English Historical Review. Larry Silver, writing in the Art Bulletin, stated: Binski's "discussion of medieval tombs is one of the first overviews of these monuments since Erwin Panofsky's Tomb Sculpture…. Appropriately, Binski attends to the audiences as well as to the forms of medieval tombs and underscores their 'salvific' dimension of tombs."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Art Bulletin, June, 1998, Larry Silver, review of Medieval Death: Ritual and Representation, p. 378; June, 2006, Paul Crossley, review of Becket's Crown: Art and Imagination in Gothic England, 1170–1300, p. 393.
English Historical Review, April, 1998, Janet Burton, review of Medieval Death, p. 420.
History: Review of New Books, summer, 1997, Jay T. Lees, review of Medieval Death, p. 176.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January, 2003, Nigel Saul, New Offerings, Ancient Treasures: Studies in Medieval Art for George Henderson, p. 114.