So I've been taking a contemporary art class to cover some liber studies credits, since that was the best course offered for the quarter. I must say though I have gotten rather captivated by the issues and discussions brought up in the class. I've even come to the conclustion that Christianity has missed as far as I can tell a very advantageous evangelical ground within the Contemporary or Post Modern art movements.There are a lot of meanings questioned and mused over in post modern art that I have found very useful personally in my writings. The meanings of idententy, place, the body, language, and other complex sociological, psycological, and cultural foudations have given me a broader range of characters and story arcs for me to journey through. However all of the work I have seen in this realm unfourtanately addresses a secular and self-cented worldview. Most of them were created with no belief in spirituality whatsoever, but why? If the absence of any faith can be a leigitamite contromporary discussion, what's wrong with the profession of faith?It's hard in general for me personally to percieve art as an "act of faith" in general but I can see how this makes sense. I'm not saying Christian artists need to explore (as our Church is, although the gallery is within/around the sancturary); one can easily profess the word over a artwork that is "read" to profess the compleate opposite, as it brings up the conversation, which means the other person is interested! It would help however if there were more of Christian instillations in the galleries, Museums, and Collectors warehouses.It shouldn't be all that hard either for Christians to witness through the Post Modern arena. Almost anything has value in this world, thanks to the "Museum Effect." Many may not approve of this phenomenon; a rotting shark carcass being placed in a specificied location becomes the spark of profound philosophical debate. Isn't this the same effect though which is what makes a musicial performance worth a hundered dollar ticket not worth a dime in a subway? A couple having intercourse becomes such a God-Gloryifing act when before hand the two peform a few rituals and make a few promises within a group of like-minded members in a ornate bulding over any other building?Certainly then I think this is a great missed opprotunity, for Christians! I wouldn't be suprised if Evangical Christian Contemporary exhibitions become the next Toyota of the art season. The love of Crist can be shown in simpler ways, but it would amazing if someone could open a gallery that made a hardcore post modern connisseur think about it want to dicuss it on a more personal, and less argumentative level!
The secular art world has an almost religious structure. The Art Critics are the gate keepers. If they see something new and like it, they write about it. If Art Gallery owners see them writing about some new artist, they might invite him to exhibit at their galleries. Then, if more art critics are impressed, the word "important" might get added to a review of the exhibit. The artist has now become more popular. And if the words "a new voice" get added to further reviews, the artist is now a star, with a chance to exhibit at one of the Cathedrals of modern art.
Art dealers start buying his work, marking it up, and making a profit.
Christians have been putting their comic books on Kickstarter. Web comics exist, but most of them are bad. The few that are considered good aren't very good. Christian artists can get things done but only if they learn anatomy, perspective and are able to draw cars, trucks and buildings as well as people. That includes those with a cartoon style.
Then the story. It has to be about good versus evil and good wins. Not just because he's good but because he's smart. And he is a hero who is heroic. He does not make deals with bad guys or do other things that show him in a bad light. He is an above average person with qualities people should have. Even non-religious readers should be inspired by him or her. He shouldn't just be a fighter but a good, kind person in his day to day life. A good role model. The world today needs good role models.
Alika wrote: "i think there's still some art out there on par w/ teh Renaissancians.."
I've always imagined that if you could have gotten Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Reubens, etc., in a room looking over the shoulder of John Buscema while figures exploded from his pencil, they would have been blown away by the skill, form, volume, and movement...and the speed at which they arrived on the page.
Steve Crespo said: "Now in order to appreciate a work, we have to know its creator or its meaning. I think that is a scam."
I did a year at a fine art school right out of high school where the first two years were a complete "unlearning" of any and all representational leanings -- everything was to be abstract. I'd come from no formal training -- just a love to draw stuff, and this was a real mind-trip for me. I left after the first year (I also left the Kubert School after one year, so it probably says more about my relationship with formal schooling than it does about the schools), but the abstract concepts have continued to simmer over the three decades -- and I have benefited greatly from that short stay. But...only as I've applied those principles to the disciplines I've been involved in.
To your quote above; recently, I decided to look up an old teacher from that first school. I found a gallery of his paintings, and I became tired simply considering how much effort would be necessary to figure out what he was doing. He wanted me to come into his own personal universe, when I like the one with God at the center just fine.
It felt vacuous to me. And sad.
Isn't the very meaning of post-modern no meaning at all? Or is that an over-simplification? It seems the very movement is anti-God. But, perhaps there's a way to have a Mars Hill experience within the movement....
"The Painted Word"? I'll look into it. I'll just add it to my way-too-long reading list! (Currently reading David McCullough's "John Adams". Excellent!) ...But hey, there are worse problems! :-)
I double checked, and yes, the book I mentioned- "The God Who Is There" by Francis Schaeffer- is the one that deals with the deconstructionist heart of modern art, and how such ideas are created, and slowly absorbed and accepted by the culture. (It is not a book focused on the topic of art, per se, but it is a large part of his argument.)
And here are a few more from my bookcase that are worth reading-
Also, the Art Renewal Center has some interesting articles on this subject. (http://www.artrenewal.org/)
That’s quite a response. Thank you for taking the time to discuss this on such a level.
Let me start by saying this, I know my views on this are narrow. In fact, if you would ask my wife, she’d tell you that most of my views are narrow. I don’t see that as a bad thing, as Truth itself is far more narrow than my views. But, art is by nature subjective, so it is quite a slippery thing to pin down.
Let me start with some personal discussion… When I was younger, my dad took me to the Guggenheim museum. I had to do something (I can’t remember what) for my entrance exam for an art specialized high school. …My father knows NOTHING about art. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Goose eggs. He is just not wired that way. As we walked through this collection of modern works, he was silent. Not a sound. I myself became angry- even at so young an age- for what I saw and took to be a scam.
But my father’s silence spoke volumes to me. If art is anything it is communication, and if an artist fails to communicate- whether to pass along a meaning, or simply convey an emotion- then we can say the piece was a failure. Again, my father knows nothing about art. He is all about the Yankees, 50’s do-wop, and cars, and he was completely untouched by anything hanging on those walls that day. If anything, he was baffled. He didn’t understand why people would be attracted to such things- a slashed brown canvas, a series of primary colored canvases hanging in a row, or random splashes of color thrown across a canvas. Neither could I.
… But he can appreciate Waterhouse over Rothko. (I’ve seen it.) Why is that?
I have quite a few friends involved in the arts, many of them in very progressive, modern circles. They know where I stand. They know when I see an actual air vent that has been covered in a wooden textured paper, and is expected to be viewed as an artistic statement- (I kid you not. That happened.)- they will get nothing but a laugh out of me. When I see a photo of two nude people facing each other, kneeling, and covered in a mesh garment that connects the two, and expected to be viewed as art. I laugh.
Many of these “artists” have been working at this for some time. They’ve had many shows, and are constantly working on new pieces. These are not just shot from the hip. They can explain their creative processes, their creative evolution over the years… but as a work, as a thing in itself, it fails.
Because much of what I see in contemporary modern arts is not craft as much as expression, not execution as much as statement.
That someone feels the need to create doesn’t make it art. That someone finds something beautiful doesn’t make it art. That someone finds something meaningful doesn’t make it art. Art is more than creation, more than expression, more than mere “photo-esque realism”. It is more than the sum of it’s parts. It taps into the Divine, in my opinion. It mimics that very first facet of God that we learn in the scriptures: Creator.
And as God is a God of order, He is also a Creator of order. When I see a deconstruction of order, a marring of beauty, I see a step away from the Creator, and the aesthetic of God. (The late Francis Schaeffer wrote some AMAZING things on this very topic. I believe in the book “The God Who Is There”, but I can’t remember for sure.)
Do I think someone could not use contemporary artwork to glorify their Creator? Absolutely. God is not limited in what He can or cannot speak through, but let’s remember that God has used many an odd thing to speak to people through. The question is not if it glorifies God, or even if God can use it, but is it art.
You wrote: “If we as artistic Christians want to press that our artistic gifts are valuable to the Body of Christ as much as other people's abilities & spiritual gifts, than we must also come to the loving embracing acceptance that the different artistic gifts, creations, and mediums formed by others with holy purpose is equally valuable to the Body of Christ than what we do.. and is of course equally pleasing and beautiful to our Father.”
I would answer: Why?
Do I need to value your art as art (and you value mine) in order for God to use it? In order for others to appreciate it?
Listen, I think ssooo much Christian music today is stinko. I really, really do. I would NEVER include it in my collection, but would I ever stop these folks from making their music? Nope. As a Christian my ONLY obligation is allowing them the FREEDOM to do what they do. …I don’t have to like it, value it, or even speak positively of it. They are free to create, I am free to judge, and may God be glorified in the midst of it!
The same goes for Christian art.
Well, I dunno... I hope that furthers the conversation.
Steve, I would say that stating modern artists are undisciplined or take less time or effort with their work is an incredibly harsh and unfair accusation to make. Especially if you'd study modern artists you'd know most of them started out in the genre of Realism and have gone through the same training as any fine artist, as well as spent years developing their techniques. With all artistic genres, there are techniques that take years to learn and develop. I agree with you that that the secular art community is crooked and the art that is praised is that by the artists that have build the network and reputation (But if you considered artistry a business- isn't that true for all businesses? An unknown business makes a product and it gets ignored; the famous, established, networked business makes a similar product and it gets all the praise). Art, when it comes to fame, is especially susceptible to this since it is subjective- confirming value by studying other people's perceived valuing takes over. I agree some "modern art" in Contemporary Art Museums appear lazy, but that definitely doesn't speak for the genre, and the fact is, modern art isn't the only one that can be lazily "cheated" for praise purposes. I can do a photo-sque realism painting using the bare possible minimum of my brain activity or thought within the same time a person stapled a piece of shag carpet to a canvas and claimed it as a worthy participant of Modern Art, since I know every "cheat-code" for Realism in the book which gives many the faux-illusion that I put lengthy time, special skill, or creative effort in what I did (when none of the above took place at. all. I call it getting "cheap gasps" when complicated looking realism is done through fast & skill-less thoughtless means)
But let me ask you this: Do you think someone could not use contemporary artwork to glorify their Creator or compose such when filled with inspiration by the Holy Spirit to do so? We aren't in the business of impressing society, that's not why we're knit together. As creatures of God and not doomed to try to live up to the secular art "high society" the only thing that matters is that art IS subjective and all art is beautiful- because whatever art predilection God has gifted us with- He can use that to speak out to SOMEBODY if we let Him! And God has given us all our predilections, gifts, and personalities for a reason.
Remember: "If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you." In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable" 1 Cor 12:17-23
If we as artistic Christians want to press that our artistic gifts are valuable to the Body of Christ as much as other people's abilities & spiritual gifts, than we must also come to the loving embracing acceptance that the different artistic gifts, creations, and mediums formed by others with holy purpose is equally valuable to the Body of Christ than what we do.. and is of course equally pleasing and beautiful to our Father. : )
Speaking of which, Muddy Colors is a fantastic blog that I follow. Great posts that introduce little known or appreciated artists, posts on technique, or composition... anything related to the world of illustration.
Worth checking out.
@Crespo I don't know anything about Alex Ross or Frank Frazetta, but their work speaks for itself, i think there's still some art out there on par w/ teh Renaissancians..