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Fall 2020

ZONE BOOKS

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A review of Into the White
An Arctic Poetics

In a recent article for Vesto Review, art historian Gabriel Chazan discusses Christopher Heuer’s Into the White: The Renaissance Arctic and the End of the Image. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:

“In his 1555 book on the Arctic, the Swedish bishop Olaus Magnus included a peculiar full chapter on the shapes of snowflakes. As illustrated in Magnus’s book, the snowflakes become a moon, a bird, a triangle, a hand, and a flower. Magnus wondered at the variation of these arctic snowflakes as ‘a matter for amazement rather than inquiry why and how so many shapes and forms, which elude the skill of any artist you chose to name, are so suddenly stamped upon such soft, tiny objects.’ The art historian Christopher P. Heuer, considering Magnus in his recent book Into The White, notes that these snowflakes are framed as ‘defying scrutiny because they are diverse.’ No single image can begin to capture the arctic or these snowflakes. This Arctic sense of opacity is notable in almost all the stories in Into The White: here is a visual culture around the Far North in which there is sometimes little to be seen or what can be seen is only fragmentary, as in a floating iceberg. Heuer takes ‘the visual poetics of the Far North’ as a central focus, directing most of his inquiry toward Renaissance accountings and visuals but drawing on more recent artworks as well.”