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In addition to his notable academic career, Professor Alexander Hollmann is a fine visual artist whose artists’ book, The Golden Histories, is included here along with his academic book. Professor Hollmann has created a lush artwork that combines drawings, ink-wash, hand-lettered Greek text and gold leaf to illustrate stories in which gold objects are used as signs in The Histories by Herodotus.  The use of gold leaf, with its symbolic power of beauty, richness, sovereignty and divinity may bring an intuitive perception of the powerful pull that these golden objects exert over the characters in the Herodotus stories. .

The accompanying Greek script functions as both text and texture and, because only those able to read the ancient language can decipher it, it also exemplifies the sender/sign/recipient motif. The artist’s font is based on letter forms encountered in the process of his scholarly research on magical texts, imbuing this piece with a sense of enchantment and illusion. Helpfully, Professor Hollmann has provided an accompanying translation.

When the eight panels are displayed together, they bring to mind an elaborate frieze in a Greek temple.  By such references, Hollmann brings together his area of academic research and study and his skills as a visual artist, creating a work that makes the stories of Herodotus both accessible and exhilarating.

In life, countless circumstances demand that we decode a sign – from a baby’s cry to body language to metaphoric prose. Each book here has signaled an idea, a story, or a message. It is left to the viewer to make his or her own discovery in the book, to interpret the work, and find meaning in each artist’s sign.


The Golden Histories
Alexander Hollmann

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