“The harmony in the universe is not a destiny
but a fact that eternally tests itself”
This last work by Michael Benson is probably the most beautiful visual book in 2014. The meeting, for those unfamiliar with his extraordinary work, will be a source of wonder, while those who have already had occasion to admire the previous volumes will be again amazed. As a result of the research of a lifetime, the artist has composed, exploring an immense corpus of images on nature and perception of cosmos through the visions and artistic interpretations that humanity has left us as a witness, probably the most comprehensive and surprising visual guide among those drawn up until now.
For most of its existence, the observation of the stars represented for human civilization the most important experience. We must not think only of the myths of the origin collected in every corner of the planet or the famous conclusion, the word stars, with whom Dante Alighieri seals the poems of his Comedy, but to all those ancient cultures, the Babylonian, for example, whose law and architectural setting was based on the deep cosmological knowledge of time.
A massive volume, divided into 10 sections from creation through the solar system, to the different celestial bodies and astronomical phenomena, including drawings, illustrations, maps and paintings, where we meet, just to name a few, the works of Robert Fludd, William Blake, Giovanni di Paolo, Hildegard of Bingen (see DROME n. 19 – the Supernatural issue!) and Andreas Cellarius.
If they were simple artworks those that animate dramatically the gallery that is made before our eyes, we would, solely, face yet another beautiful book of art, but these works convey something else. They give us the character of an era, the transformations of the ability to look, the sense of the sacred, the human aspirations toward something bigger and out of time. The empire of the beauty of the stars in the sky, the planets and their movements is not a recent passion, despite the technological means today allow us to probe more deeply. Ancient cosmogony and cosmology are the gateway to understand the development of the civilizations from which we come. This volume also speaks of this by reminding us that the deeper, out of us into the sky has long been a way to explore the depths of our soul, when alive, and celebrated, was the feeling of a communion between heaven and earth, microcosm and macrocosm. A journey, this book, even to the discovery of ourselves and the source where art and science dance together under the good omen of the harmony of the universe.
Abrams Books, 2014
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