Together with other ancient surveys that assisted financial accountability, the Roman tax census during the four centuries following Emperor Augustus and the ecclesiastical polyptychs
of the 8th and 9th centuries which were used for tax and accounting purposes, the Domesday Survey occupies a landmark position in accounting history.
You can argue, of course, that Western museums are filled with things wrenched from their original contexts: Greek sculptures removed from once-sacred precincts, Medieval altarpieces detached from altars, fragments of Renaissance polyptychs
made to stand on their own, "homeless" eighteenth-century portraits, and so on.
The ground floor of the gallery featured a sampling of works ranging from 1968 to 2012 and passing through Brazil, Germany, and Japan: singular images of great power, such as the photo Horses Eye, 1998/2012, which seemed to dominate the room; polyptychs
organized with a noteworthy spatial and chromatic rhythm, such as Motel de Babel, 2005/2012, in which the artist spies on an intimate scene inside a motel room, or Cinelandia, 1992/2012, in which he frames the legs of women on the street; and paintings that could be abstract but whose color and organic forms hint at female bodies.
But all three polyptychs
would have been visible from the grate, which functioned as the site from which nuns received the Eucharist.
Reed inserts rectangles within rectangles, each containing an image that appears to comment on the main images, very much as if the works were contemporary versions of polyptychs
, or as if the inserted rectangles were predelta spaces.
Rooms five and six are a detective's playground, examining fragments of polyptychs
and questioning the precise purpose of certain images.
2), the polyptychs
from Recanati and Ponteranica, the St Antoninus giving Aims from Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice and the Madonna of the Rosary from Cingoli.
The title The Propitious Garden of Plane Image--which Marden has given to three polyptychs
, two of which are included in the show--appears to play on this Voltairean horticultural metaphor, although Pollock, too, spoke of "gardening" his paintings.
This is followed by two contributions that treat altarpieces and religious orders: Joanna Cannon examines Sienese polyptychs
and the Dominicans, while Gaudenz Freuler illuminates the role that altarpieces played in promoting the cult of San Bernardino.
A comparison with the hands of the Virgin on the two polyptychs
in the Siena Pinacoteca--designed and, I believe, largely painted by Duccio--show a decided advance over the Perugia and Metropolitan paintings.
This approach engenders a tone of monastic serenity that is heightened by the hinged-panel format of six of the works, which evokes religious polyptychs
In part three, devoted exclusively to the National Gallery, there are 69 full pane color plates, each of these has its own separately numbered comparative material, including reconstructions, polyptychs
shown closed, paintings seen from the back, related works by the same artists, as well as small color details.