See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Friday, April 23, 2010

Art stuff.

Religious art.
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Isn't this a nice image of Peter of Alcantara?  I didn't paint it, although I have been painting people and things levitating, not as well as Cynthia Large of course, but I did take my inspiration from her.  I haven't published any of my paintings from this past winter because they aren't very good and I haven't had ideal conditions in which to photograph them anyway - conditions such as taking the time to set up the tripod.
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Anyway.  I'm still painting however.  I'll try to post a couple of the more recent, decent paintings for your amusement in a day or so on "Up Your Street".
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Fr. Eric has a good post on Portraying Our Lord in Art.  Not surprisingly, Father dislikes images such as the Godspell Jesus - he hates clowns - and ethnic Jesus - radical black Jesus with dreads and stuff like that.  I'm not fond of such images either - although many primitive indigenous images of devotion can be edifying - take Ethiopian/Coptic images, Southwest Spanish Colonial retablo, and some Asian and African images.  I get that stuff.  Nevertheless these images and those based upon such often remain foreign to ordinary Western taste.
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That said, I believe images of Christ ought to move one to devotion if they are meant to be used liturgically or for private devotion.  While religious art is also instructive, politicized images of Christ have no place in religious cult or devotional practice.  I think some of the examples Fr. Eric refers to are politicized and/or sentimentalized and may be better defined as kitsch.
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Personally I prefer images of Christ based upon the Shroud image.  It seems likely most Christian painters have historically based their representations of Christ on that prototype.  Since the earliest times pretty much all the icons in both the East and the West can be traced back to the image of the Holy Face on the Shroud or the Veil of Veronica.  Hair color and eye color may vary - but that is of little significance, although it can convey a supernatural meaning - light skinned, light hair, blue eyes have often been esteemed by all cultures and sometimes serve to communicate a mystical quality.  This does not discount the fact there are red haired Jews, sun-bleached haired Jews, Jews with blue eyes, green eyes, brown eyes, and so on.  Jesus was a Jew, but all Jews do not look alike.  Naturally, there must have been an attractiveness about Our Lord, despite the fact Isaiah says "he had nothing to attract us to him" - of course the prophet is speaking of the Suffering Servant, disfigured by torture.  Jesus could have looked like Osama Bin Laden for all we know.
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However, as the Easter narratives reveal, the Lord's look seems to have changed after the Resurrection - the Gospels tell us the disciples didn't recognize him at first.  It seems he may have looked differently each time he appeared to them.  Aside from the supernatural significance, what does that mean on the natural level?  Does it perhaps allow for some freedom in depicting Our Lord in the arts?  I think it may - within reason of course.  Yet as I said, sacred images should lead one to devotion.  In almost every appearance by the risen Christ to his disciples, Jesus somehow revealed himself sacramentally - in the breaking of the bread - the Eucharist, the episode on the shore with the fish, the upper room breathing the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and so on.  The images of Christ, the saints and episodes from the Gospel ought to inspire and instruct and draw the viewer into deeper communion with the divine reality they represent.  Sometimes that is done in the vernacular of the artist and his particular culture.
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Art:  St Peter of Alcantara, source unknown.

13 comments:

  1. I agree with everything you have stated here.
    The Shroud of Turin is the prototype for all of the ancient depictions of our Lord; a Trappistine Sister did a study of this ("Inside the Vatican" had a piece on this several years ago on the very unique image of our Lord...I can't remember the name, but it is in a Capuchin monastery in northern Italy and Pope Benedict visited it)...the configuration of our Lord's face in the ancient icons absolutely conforms to the Shroud.
    I saw a recent report that scientists are doubting the "carbon 14" test that placed the Shroud in the Middle Ages...the upcoming exposition of the Holy Shroud is a great grace for the entire world.
    Jesus, our Lord, Crucified...and Risen.
    Alleluia! (And I'm NOT a charismatic!...we say "alleluia" a LOT in the EF:<)!)

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  2. I don't mind the genuine indigenous images. What bothers me are the ideologically driven ones, as you correctly guessed. (And of course clowns and hippies are evil.)

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  3. Fr. Erik: Clowns and hippies are evil...absolument!!

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  4. Many images of Our Lady are also not ethnically Hebrew..
    Our Lady of Guadalupe is an Aztec maiden..

    But perhaps I still reek of my Protestant upbringing where images don't have a real big place in my life..they're nice handy reminders and help me in my devotions but I don't get real bent on their APPEARANCES...also solidified by my years spent in the Middle East where most all Christian chapels I attended were bare warehouses with not even a cross in sight...maybe that's why the bareness of monasteries attracts me, not alot of "stuff" and distractions everywhere, and you can pray and be at one with God..

    peace.. Ssra

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  5. Okay, this has nothing to do with this post.But our Mr Terry made it on "GLORIA TV"...with his "alias" picture/persona! Yeah!
    Mulier Fortis brought this to my attention...he is now international, folks!
    I can't not make this known.
    Our Mr. Terry is an international name now.
    Kudos, to you, Mr. Terry!
    And keep up the great work.
    We love you ever so much:<)!

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  6. Father - Larry at AofA is more famous - he's been on Gloria TV 3 times already.

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  7. "Our Mr. Terry is an international name now."

    LOL that was great!

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  8. Austringer--

    I DID find "The Twilight of Painting" in my local university library..however due to graduation the library is closed until Monday..will swing by and pick it up then...

    Looking forward to reading it on your recommendation!!

    Sara

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  9. Austringer2:00 PM

    Sara,

    I'm amazed, amazed! I've only found it used at individual booksellers through Amazon.

    Every so often I buy a copy or two and give them away. I figure it's a kind of evangelization....

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  10. I am on the fence concerning the Shroud of Turin..I am approaching this from the scientific person that I am..

    I refer to the radiocarbon dating test done in 1988 by three independent facilities--University of Arizona, Oxford, and Zurich. A strip of cloth was sampled away from any repaired areas. The report confirmed that the linen of the Shroud was approximately AD 1260-1390, placing it as a medieval creation.

    Here is the site with report..

    http://www.shroud.com/nature.htm

    The scientific article was published in Nature magazine.

    "Reprinted from Nature, Vol. 337, No. 6208, pp. 611-615, 16th February, 1989"

    If this study was incorrectly done I have yet to see the science on it.

    Sara

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  11. Let me also say that it is possible that Shroud of Turin is a miracle, just like the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a miracle..

    However we must not make the mistake of basing our faith on the fragile material items of this world..for if indeed they are proven to be fakes then we have nothing..

    Believe me--it is tough to be both a Catholic Christian and a engineer/scientist..to many it would appear that the two would be at odds with each other..

    Peace.. Sara

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  12. Austringer4:35 PM

    Sara,

    Catholicism and science (not scientism) ought not to seem at odds with each other. The list of scientists who were also monks, priests, or fervent lay Catholics is a long one: Copernicus, Mendel, Galileo, Pasteur,...The man who has often been called the father of modern atomic theory was also called "Father" -- Fr. Roger Boscovich. Ditto for the "father of Egyptology" -- Fr. Athanasius Kircher. Seismology was so dominated by Jesuits that it became known as "the Jesuit science." And don't forget the scientist behind the Big Bang theory, Fr. Georges Lemaitre.
    But I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know...

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