By David Freedberg
With new surges of activity from religious, political, and military extremists, the destruction of images has become increasingly relevant on a global scale. A founder of the study of early modern and contemporary iconoclasm, David Freedberg has addressed this topic for five decades. His work has brought this subject to a central place in art history, critical to the understanding not only of art but of all images in society. This volume collects the most significant of Freedberg’s texts on iconoclasm and censorship, bringing five key works back into print alongside new assessments of contemporary iconoclasm in places ranging from the Near and Middle East to the United States, as well as a fresh survey of the entire subject. The writings in this compact volume explore the dynamics and history of iconoclasm, from the furious battles over images in the Reformation to government repression in modern South Africa, the American culture wars of the early 1990s, and today’s cancel culture.
Freedberg combines fresh thinking with deep expertise to address the renewed significance of iconoclasm, its ideologies, and its impact. This volume also provides a supplement to Freedberg’s essay on idolatry and iconoclasm from his pathbreaking book, The Power of Images. Freedberg’s writings are of foundational importance to this discussion, and this volume will be a welcome resource for historians, museum professionals, international law specialists, preservationists, and students.
Read a Columbia News interview with Professor Freedberg on Iconoclasm.