Byzantine Delights: The Finest in Fine Arts Publishing

By Carolyn Kuebler

Since the 1980s, Istanbul-based Ertug-Kocabiyik has been a secret of European art-book publishing and of a few exclusive retailers in the United States. But this spring, the fine arts publisher has decided to spread its wings and offer its treasures to a larger audience. The publisher will use the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Byzantium: Faith and Power" exhibition (which runs through July 4) as a launching pad. Specializing in books on Ottoman and Byzantine culture, the press offers a small selection of meticulously illustrated and designed books, often handbound in silks and leathers, printed on handmade papers, or tucked into slipcases. One book to look out for this season is Chora: The Scroll of Heaven ($425). Photographed by copublisher Ahmet Ertug and written by Byzantine art historian Cyril Mango, it reproduces 13th-century mosaics and frescoes from the Chora monastery in Istanbul. This September, in an exciting development, the publisher will release Spiritual Journey: Sacred Art from Musée Guimet, which displays the collection of a Paris museum devoted to Asian art (see image). The publisher will be distributed in the United State by Interma, Inc. (800-878-1242). All 16 titles, priced from $325 to an astounding $2800, can be viewed virtually at www.ertug-kocabiyik.com. While the prices and preciousness will keep these books out of ordinary reference or circulating collections, libraries with a specialty in art history, Byzantine and Ottoman culture, or fine publishing will want to splurge.

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