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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Faith and its arts
Adeodatus
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It seems to me that Christianity has a complex set of relationships with the artists it has used and employed over the centuries. Visual artists seem often to delight in the subversive: pagan carvings in the stonework of churches, funny (and sometimes verging on pornographic) illustrations in illuminated manuscripts, Caravaggio's St Matthew painted with scandalously dirty feet, and so on. Music, on the other hand, seems to humanise faith, communicating an emotional response to faith from the composer's heart straight to the performer's or the listener's. Vocal music comments on and explores text: texts that might evoke only a minimal response from us are fixed in the mind and heart by the music that goes with them.

So I found myself saying to someone a while ago, "If only Christianity were as good as its art, I could be faithful." Without its arts, I've come to see only "poor little talkative Christianity" (E.M.Forster), drab and dull. But add its arts - especially music - and the Faith can still make my heart fly.

Have I made art my god, or am I onto something?

--------------------
"What is broken, repair with gold."

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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In beauty lies truth. Which is why in the age of persuasion there is little faith, there is merely a market with merchants selling ideas beyond their "best before" date.

In the beginning there was the Word? Or should we rather emphasize that it was Good?

(I agree with your basic premise)

--------------------
Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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lilBuddha
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Art is tied to religion in large part because religion had the purse strings. Not saying there has never been inspiration, mind.
How do Christians view great works of art tied to other religions?

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
How do Christians view great works of art tied to other religions?

Acquisitively.

--------------------
Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Brenda Clough
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J.R.R. Tolkien, a noted Christian and Catholic, wrote of his Elves that they put all that they love into all that they make. Artists always need material, vast quantities, in daily volume. Like sharks, perpetually needing something new to eat, always swimming in search of that next meal.
And because of that ongoing hunger everything they see and connect with eventually goes into the art.

You, out in the audience, possibly do not see all the bits and bobs that go into the maw, because it's all milled and digested into something new. But if you talk to (or read the writings of) musicians they'll mention here's a bit of Hamilton, just a few notes, and I liked that tiny motif from the plainsong chant for Whitsunday so I put it in in the second movement, and I stole the entire structure for her aria from Puccini because why not borrow from the best.

And writers! We are jackdaws, thieves worst than any magpie; the trick is to disguise the borrowing. I found myself recently in need of names, in volume and variety. Purloined them all from the character lists of Broadway musicals; I doubt anyone will ever notice.

Which is why all art, all creativity, eventually connects around in back, underneath. We are not alone and never have been; every maker holds the hand of the Real Maker and feels God's delight on the seventh day.

--------------------
Science fiction and fantasy writer

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Gamaliel
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I think you're into something, Adeodatus.

Meanwhile, lilBuddha, I'm not sure there's a single 'Christian' response to great art from other religions, but generally,and not only at the very conservative end, I suspect there's generally been a measure of discomfort. Is it idolatrous? Is it a 'graven image'?

Goodness knows, we've had enough hassle over the visual arts in our own faith traditions, let alone anyone else's.

That said, I know Christians who admire the geometry of Islamic art and architecture, the serenity of Buddhist art and so on.

I suspect most Christians would struggle with Hindu sculptures, although not all would be reaching for a sledge hammer ISIS style ...

It all depends on the individual's own perspective to an extent, I think ... coloured obviously by whatever branch or strand of Christianity they've been involved with.

FWIW I find that evangelicals are a lot more open to the arts than they might have been a few generations ago. It's less of an issue in some of the more Catholic traditions than it's been in some sectors of Protestantism. But the mileage varies.

I often think that many Catholics have a good taste by-pass, but that wouldn't be fair right across the board.

I do find Orthodox iconography and early medieval Western art and early Renaissance art a lot easier to cope with than some of the High Renaissance and Baroque floridity associated with Counter-Reformation Catholicism.

I don't know much about Buddhist art but that seems to have a similar dynamic going on - some profoundly serene examples and some pretty florid and garish stuff.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:
I found myself saying to someone a while ago, "If only Christianity were as good as its art, I could be faithful." Without its arts, I've come to see only "poor little talkative Christianity" (E.M.Forster), drab and dull. But add its arts - especially music - and the Faith can still make my heart fly.


Most people can appreciate the creativity sponsored by major Christian denominations and congregations over the centuries.

However, I don't think we're going to see religious institutions spending large amounts of money on high culture as time goes on. Many of them simply don't have the money any more. Even if the money is available, public perception has changed, and I don't think there's a widespread desire to see religious groups splashing out on this kind of thing as opposed to social projects, and various charitable activities for the needy.

Moreover, in the past it was partly to assert their power and status that denominational groups invested in artistic creation. There's more humility now, especially as secularisation has taken hold. And those newer groups who do wish to make such statements with their buildings or music (especially at the global level, where churches may be well-financed) are not usually attempting to produce high art. When they try too hard they often fail to impress the discerning eye.

Individuals will continue to have their own artistic tastes and interests, depending on their education, upbringing and experiences, etc.

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Gamaliel
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You'll probably be familiar with the The S Eliot adage, Brenda, 'Poor poets borrow, good poets steal.'

On issues of artistic excellence and so on, art doesn't have to be 'high-art' to have value. There's a lot of good folk art.

I'd agree that the age of wealthy patrons paying a Jan Fan Eyck to paint them an altar-piece or a Pope commissioning a Michelangelo are past, but I don't see the end of Christian art. I suspect the Christian art of the future will be be low key and folksy.

But there'll also be some monstrosities. Oral Roberts University had its 'praying hands' sculpture, I think.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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SvitlanaV2
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Perhaps because he was waxing so lyrical about church art being 'good', I imagined Adeodatus to be referring to something pretty powerful. 'Low key and folksy' stuff might not suit his lofty purposes....

I've just looked up the Praying Hands. They're not that ugly, IMO, but clearly not designed to be appealing to everyone. I think they'd be better if they were smaller, but the size sends out its own message, of course.

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Gamaliel
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Adeodatus will have to answer that one. For my own part, I'd have both Thomas Tallis and Mahalia Jackson down as 'good art' - but in a different kind of way.

Albrecht Durer's 'Praying Hands' - high art.

Oral Roberts University sculptures - crass art.

'I don't know much about art, but I know what I like ...'

Heh heh heh.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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lilBuddha
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High art and low art. [Roll Eyes]
Blessed be the pretentious?

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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If Christianity is the frame, what pictures within? Realizing that art isn't merely a single sensory channel of perception. There is cheap emotional appeal which might qualify as low. There is art which leads perception to realization, which maybe partly emotional. It is just not that, if it is to be of use.

One painting that I recall quite well 25 years after I saw it is called (I think) Doubting Thomas, which is a man with his car, door open, straddling a geological fault, a tear in the side of the earth, his hand thrust into the crack. It meant to me the deep time of geological eternity, the place of a person in the immensity of it all, a wounded earth, a wounded man, a doubter, both of science and faith. And now proved, he must believe. And it is funny. Is it too highbrow?

Sorry to know LilBuddha that it may pass you by.

--------------------
Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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If Christianity is the frame, what pictures within? Realizing that art isn't merely a single sensory channel of perception. There is cheap emotional appeal which might qualify as low. There is art which leads perception to realization, which maybe partly emotional. It is just not that, if it is to be of use.

One painting that I recall quite well 25 years after I saw it is called (I think) Doubting Thomas, which is a man with his car, door open, straddling a geological fault, a tear in the side of the earth, his hand thrust into the crack. It meant to me the deep time of geological eternity, the place of a person in the immensity of it all, a wounded earth, a wounded man, a doubter, both of science and faith. And now proved, he must believe. And it is funny. Is it too highbrow?

Sorry to know LilBuddha that it may pass you by.

--------------------
Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Dave W.
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You could just link to it:
Doubting Thomas
Mark Tansey, 1986, oil on canvas

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no prophet's flag is set so...

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Thanks. I didn't know where it was.

(I don't recall it as monochrome red.)

--------------------
Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

Albrecht Durer's 'Praying Hands' - high art.

Oral Roberts University sculptures - crass art.


[Roll Eyes]

quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:

Sorry to know LilBuddha that it may pass you by.

Cute. And a bit humorous. But illustrates my point about pretension.

High art is classist and pretentious. And, IMO, art that must be explained to be appreciated has failed. Not that art cannot have depth, or cannot be appreciated more greatly the more one studies it. But the primary interaction should be sufficient.
And to say that folk art inherently lacks any depth is silly. Especially as neo-folk art is a movement within "fine" art.
The art world is as much sales and marketing as true appreciation. And it has been since the first piece was treated as a commodity. P.T. Barnum could have been an art curator with absolutely no change in ethos.
Understand, I love art. I think it a valuable part of humanity. I seek it and participate in it. I enjoy the debate about what it is or isn't and have very definite opinions about this.
But if you separate art into "high" and "low", then bow and scrape when you next meet a duchess or baron, stand aside when anyone in a higher income bracket approaches; because it is all the very same thing.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Palimpsest
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
How do Christians view great works of art tied to other religions?

Acquisitively.
The article amusingly says
quote:
New discoveries of ancient applied colour on the sculptures have been made with the application of special imaging technology.
in defense of the British museum keeping the figures. They don't mention that the first thing the British did when they got them was wire brush off the remaining paint to make pure white classical statues. [Eek!]
quote:

z
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Ricardus
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The interesting point about the Praying Hands is that they were not intended as a piece of art in their own right, they were a preliminary sketch for an altarpiece on which the whole of the apostle would have appeared. The Hands have taken on a life of their own because the altarpiece itself has been destroyed by fire, and also because of the bollocks that is sometimes peddled about how they are Albrecht's brother's hands after working down a mine.

--------------------
Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
J.R.R. Tolkien, a noted Christian and Catholic, wrote of his Elves that they put all that they love into all that they make. Artists always need material, vast quantities, in daily volume. Like sharks, perpetually needing something new to eat, always swimming in search of that next meal.
And because of that ongoing hunger everything they see and connect with eventually goes into the art.

You, out in the audience, possibly do not see all the bits and bobs that go into the maw, because it's all milled and digested into something new. But if you talk to (or read the writings of) musicians they'll mention here's a bit of Hamilton, just a few notes, and I liked that tiny motif from the plainsong chant for Whitsunday so I put it in in the second movement, and I stole the entire structure for her aria from Puccini because why not borrow from the best.

And writers! We are jackdaws, thieves worst than any magpie; the trick is to disguise the borrowing. I found myself recently in need of names, in volume and variety. Purloined them all from the character lists of Broadway musicals; I doubt anyone will ever notice.

Which is why all art, all creativity, eventually connects around in back, underneath. We are not alone and never have been; every maker holds the hand of the Real Maker and feels God's delight on the seventh day.

Fantastic post, Brenda. I especially identify with needing huge quantities of material. (That's why I can never answer the question "how long did you spend on this painting?" - the answer's always going to be "about 50 years".)

The thing is, now that I don't call myself an Anglican any more, the only thing I miss is the art. Particularly the music. And no, I don't discriminate between "high" and "low" art, though I can use all the normal Western criteria of artistic judgement to know that what I like is sometimes very different from what's good.

The music of the Faith always moved me in a way that theology never did. And the few lines of (often pretty bad) poetry in a hymn would mean more to me than all the sermons I ever heard - or preached, for that matter. Even now, I sometimes open my tattered old copy of Hymns Ancient & Modern (Revised) and play the tunes in my head, and read the poems. And I miss them.

Art can challenge. It should. But if it really is art, it can never be thoughtless, or crass, or cruel in the way that a priest can.

--------------------
"What is broken, repair with gold."

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fletcher christian

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Posted by LilBuddha:
quote:

High art is classist and pretentious

I'd be inclined to include a lot of art on that bracket currently. It's sad that so much of it is driven these days by economics and that fame is acquired, not through the art itself, but through who buys it and sponsors it. A more helpful route is perhaps to attempt in some way what is bad art and what is good art. Many claim you cannot do this, but we do it all the time for art that is not of our own time. We can quite easily define failures in terms of forms that do not work, sculpture that has an interruption where there shouldn't be one, a colour that is over-worked or too raw or a work that loses a significant amount of its power to sentimentalism. It seems to me that British and American art has really struggled to get over Warhol (although America has had much better arrows to the quiver to help it and to be fair there are signs that America is emerging from his shadow). But particularly in British art (as distinct from continental) there is a defined artistic elite and an emperor's new clothes syndrome. For those critics and artists who have dared to point out the poverty and nakedness of this millionaire sponsored art, there has been the inevitable lash of indignation and scorn followed by the almost laughable at this stage, 'Oh but how can you say what art really is?" There are more interesting things coming out of Asia and the East, but there are also signs of it being infected by the Saatchi & Saatchi poison as they extend their hunger to the world stage to start gobbling up the world's art resources, and who can really blame an artist for producing endless repetitive crap when you get paid millions to do so.

Anyway, that rant went on longer than expected! The point I was trying to make is that I think it might be possible to identify good and bad art without being elitist or classist. There is an argument to be made that it is really only the next generation that begins that process and I accept that may be the case. As regards the OP, we've lost the language of art in our era. We have become literate in a whole different area but almost completely illiterate in the realm of art. That creates a problem which crooks like Saatchi know how to exploit beautifully.

--------------------
'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:


The thing is, now that I don't call myself an Anglican any more, the only thing I miss is the art. Particularly the music. And no, I don't discriminate between "high" and "low" art, though I can use all the normal Western criteria of artistic judgement to know that what I like is sometimes very different from what's good.

The music of the Faith always moved me in a way that theology never did.



I presume this means that you no longer attend church services. But religious art and music are available in so many forms now that you don't have to be a churchgoer to enjoy them. Recordings and concerts are widely available, and religious paintings are often found in galleries or glossy books. Plenty of non-believers haunt empty churches out of love for the architecture.

quote:

Art can challenge. It should. But if it really is art, it can never be thoughtless, or crass, or cruel in the way that a priest can.

It occurs to me that the future of much 'religious art', in the intellectual, priest-free sense that you seen to be implying, could well be secular. 'Religious' music might well be written, performed and enjoyed by people with very little attachment to orthodox Christian doctrines.

Meanwhile, many Christian worshippers are likely to have different priorities, not necessarily looking for their religious surroundings (maybe a shop front, warehouse or office suite) or music-making to bear the burden of the high-minded rigour that you're suggesting.

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Gamaliel
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Gah!

I'm being somewhat tongue in cheek with my Brian Sewell impersonation and distinctions between 'high' and 'low' art.

However, what criteria do we have to determine whether Durer's work is cool or that the erstaz Oral Roberts version is crap?

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:


However, what criteria do we have to determine whether Durer's work is cool or that the erstaz Oral Roberts version is crap?

There is no such criteria. And even if there was it would be bogus - I suspect even Robert's statue might look different if viewed within the walls of the Vatican.

Art is something you have to work out for yourself, there is nothing which can be used to separate the cool from the crap.

--------------------
my new book: Biblical But Bollocks. Available in all good bookshops.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
High art is classist and pretentious. And, IMO, art that must be explained to be appreciated has failed.

Art that must be explained to you, has failed you. That's literally all your saying. And stating that the primary interaction should be sufficient is in itself classist, and anti-intellectual.

One of my most fond memories is a bunch of us Brits going around Roskilde cathedral, explaining Christian iconography to a Jewish-American delegate at the conference. Some art needs education to appreciate it. Deal with it.

--------------------
Lost in Space

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Gamaliel
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Of course, but is it all down to context? Which is the point Duchamp was making with his urinal and bottle rack a century ago.

Meanwhile, I'm not surprised that Adeodatus retains an affection for Anglican music and liturgy and the doggerel poetry of hymns.

I retain an affection for Welsh hymn tunes in the minor key and old-time revivalist hymns even though I find the spirituality that accompanies them cloyingly sentimental.

Equally, I'm pretty post-evangelical of course but that doesn't mean that certain evangelical songs and tropes no longer resonate with me.

It seems to me that many lapsed Catholics, say, retain an affection for some of the outward forms - whilst for others any reminder can be too close to the bone.

This happens across all traditions. I know a former evangelical charismatic who is now a somewhat high-ish vicar. They say that they would feel physically sick if they were ever to attend a happy-clappy meeting again. Whereas other former charismatics I know would be only happy to do so without it inducing any strong negative reaction at all.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mr cheesy
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I don't think any art absolutely has to be explained to you, one can appreciate the shapes or the still or the work that has gone into something.

But I think explanation very often helps with the appreciation beyond the most superficial level.

--------------------
my new book: Biblical But Bollocks. Available in all good bookshops.

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mousethief

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What other human endeavors do we require to be accessible with a single gestalt? Stravinsky is crap because you have to listen a couple of times to some of his pieces before you start to grok it (unlike, say, the Butthole Surfers). Dostoyevsky is pretentious garbage because you can't speed-read it and find it as easily accessible as an article on Cracked.com. The Sagrada Familia is ridiculous classist pap because a postcard can't completely capture the magnificence of it.

What hogswallop.

[ 18. March 2017, 16:35: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Of course, but is it all down to context? Which is the point Duchamp was making with his urinal and bottle rack a century ago.

No, and I don't think that really was Marcel Duchamp's point.

Art is not all down to context, it is almost all down to the perception of the observer.

Duchamp was playing with the idea of what is and isn't art, and in the process snubbing his nose at the snotty attitude of those who ran the Paris art scene in his day.

Today some critics divide art into authentic verses inauthentic - with the latter group including artists who are simply producing art which appeals to the kind of person who likes to be seen liking that kind of art. It doesn't have any meaning, the artist hasn't produced it to try to express anything in particular but to make money. That's quite a step from the irony and nose-thumbing Duchamp was doing.

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Baptist Trainfan
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I don't know. My wife has often taken me to contemporary dance performances, many of which I have enjoyed. Some can be taken on many different levels, possibly just as pure movement producing a response in the viewer. For instance, "The Protecting Veil" was amazing and moving. But there is other stuff which clearly relates to a very specific theme and which means little unless you've read the programme note beforehand.

Of course said programme notes are often lengthy, sometimes pretentious to the point of incomprehensibility, frequently printed in type which is illegible in the theatre. And my wife spends so long reading them that I rarely get to see them until we get home afterwards!

Nonconformists tend to privilege words and populist music over "high art", and I can see why. But this means that they are missing out on a whole area of divine creativity and human existence, which is so sad. People are not simply "souls to be saved" or "intellects to be fed".

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Art is not all down to context, it is almost all down to the perception of the observer.

Both of these are far too simplistic, as indeed are all generalizations including this one.

Art (by which I assume you mean visual arts excluding cinema) is not almost all down to the perception of the observer, any more than the experience of reading a Tom Clancy novel is all down to the reader. Clancy put a hell of a lot of effort into those words to make them tell a story he wanted to tell (or at very least get paid for). The reader is going to bring her own experience to the reading, to be sure. And both are part of a cultural context that affects what he wrote and what she reads. (The cultural thing gets really interesting when she's reading Crime and Punishment.) Even an artist like Jack the Dripper is making artistic choices that are not nothing. Putting our hypothetical arts patron at the helm of nearly all of the experience is to give her way too much credit. She may see a twisted bourgeois mindfuck in "Nude Descending a Staircase," but if she sees Hannibal crossing the Alps in the "Mona Lisa" then she's got a screw loose.

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mr cheesy
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I think it is down to the observer at least on the level of determining the cool/good art from the crappy/bad art.

I do also think it is a mistake to assume everyone perceives the same art in the same way, although I take your point about novels.

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Doc Tor
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When the Girl was doing her Art GCSE, I was her go-to for creating what became known as 'arty bollocks' (there's even an arty bollocks generator for all your arty needs). But there's absolutely no need to talk about art like that - that's where the class and the pretentiousness come in, not with the art itself, but with the critics.

One of my very good friends is an art historian. She is utterly down-to-earth in her explanations. She likes Buffy as well as Beethoven.

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mr cheesy
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Also I think there is something about how the observer comes at the art. Dostoyevsky seems to me to have that ability to write novels which have many levels, so one can come back to Crime and Punishment many times and see different things.

And, as you say, that's not even including the cultural aspects of which I'm not aware.

I remember enjoying Don Quixote on a very superficial level and then enjoying it even more when I was fortunate to take a class looking at it in much more detail.

Tom Clancy's novels probably don't have those levels of meaning.

But I'm not sure that makes Dostoyevsky good and Clancy bad art. They're different, written for a different purpose, to be enjoyed and appreciated differently by different people. I don't blame anyone for avoiding Dostoyevsky, I just am very grateful someone encouraged me to get stuck in.

And, I suppose I also ought to say, I very much enjoy Clancy, Michael Connelly and other thriller writers.

[ 18. March 2017, 17:04: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:

Art can challenge. It should.

Why? I agree that art can. And I think it a greater work that can be accessed at many levels, but I hesitate to say should.
quote:

But if it really is art, it can never be thoughtless, or crass, or cruel in the way that a priest can.

Again, why? Sometimes it is through crass presentation that the challenge is made.

quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
The Hands have taken on a life of their own because the altarpiece itself has been destroyed by fire, and also because of the bollocks that is sometimes peddled about how they are Albrecht's brother's hands after working down a mine.

Story is almost always a feature in the selling of art and artists.

quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
The point I was trying to make is that I think it might be possible to identify good and bad art without being elitist or classist.

I think it entirely possible to have that discussion.
quote:

There is an argument to be made that it is really only the next generation that begins that process and I accept that may be the case. As regards the OP, we've lost the language of art in our era. We have become literate in a whole different area but almost completely illiterate in the realm of art. That creates a problem which crooks like Saatchi know how to exploit beautifully.

We've several generations who've become adept in the language of speaking about art, but who generally use it to parrot whatever is in fashion.
quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

However, what criteria do we have to determine whether Durer's work is cool or that the erstaz Oral Roberts version is crap?

I'm not sure we need to. Both are very similar with the exception of scale. Is scale crass?

Certainly there are criteria in which we can judge art. Those criteria are somewhat soft and subjective, though.
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
What other human endeavors do we require to be accessible with a single gestalt?

Not necessarily entirely accessible, but something, yes. If the explanation is the art, then write a note.

quote:

Stravinsky is crap because you have to listen a couple of times to some of his pieces before you start to grok it (unlike, say, the Butthole Surfers). Dostoyevsky is pretentious garbage because you can't speed-read it and find it as easily accessible as an article on Cracked.com. The Sagrada Familia is ridiculous classist pap because a postcard can't completely capture the magnificence of it.

This misses my point. All of these have a level of appreciation that is possible in the first encounter. That one's experience of them can grow is what makes them great.
Depth in art is a good thing, I am saying that it shouldn't be the only thing. Or even necessarily the most important thing.

quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
High art is classist and pretentious. And, IMO, art that must be explained to be appreciated has failed.

Art that must be explained to you, has failed you.
Nope. I am not saying that I must appreciate anything for it to be considered art. Nor any particular individual. But, as I said to mousethief, if the explanation is the art, then write a note.
quote:

And stating that the primary interaction should be sufficient is in itself classist,

Why? If one denigrates art simply because it is in Madam Pretension's Museum of Pretensiousity, then perhaps. Art is, in part, in thrall to its medium. So visual art should communicate primarily visually. Not by needing to study. Guernica manages to convey angst, horror, fear, etc., even if one doesn't not know anything of the Spanish Civil War or appreciate abstract art.

Again, for emphasis, greater understanding with greater knowledge is not a bad thing. But to say it is a necessary is elitist.

quote:

and anti-intellectual.

Ah yes. "You don't like it because you do not understand it. Peasant."
quote:

One of my most fond memories is a bunch of us Brits going around Roskilde cathedral, explaining Christian iconography to a Jewish-American delegate at the conference. Some art needs education to appreciate it. Deal with it.

This is a ridiculous example. Are you saying that Roskilde is ugly unless you understand
Christian iconography? Is, then, the Tian Tan Buddha merely a massive waste of bronze unless one learns a something about Buddhism? Is St. Basil's a candy-coloured eyesore unless one is Orthodox?

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
that's where the class and the pretentiousness come in, not with the art itself, but with the critics.

And who defines what is art? It has been, with a few exceptions, the critics, the museum and gallery curators and those who spend massive amounts of money. And the last group typically follows the first groups.

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
One of my most fond memories is a bunch of us Brits going around Roskilde cathedral, explaining Christian iconography to a Jewish-American delegate at the conference. Some art needs education to appreciate it. Deal with it.

This is a ridiculous example. Are you saying that Roskilde is ugly unless you understand
Christian iconography? Is, then, the Tian Tan Buddha merely a massive waste of bronze unless one learns a something about Buddhism? Is St. Basil's a candy-coloured eyesore unless one is Orthodox?

No, this is ridiculous to you. Which is all I was saying with the 'Art that must be explained to you, has failed you.' You feel (very strongly, apparently) that if you need art explained to you, it's failed as art.

If I need art explained to me, I don't think it's failed as art. It might have done if, after the explanation, I still think it's just a dead shark in tank of formaldehyde.

You speak on this subject with entirely subjective views. As, probably, do we all. But your assertions are not universal truths, and I think there's enough of us on here to indicate that to be the case.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:


Nonconformists tend to privilege words and populist music over "high art", and I can see why. But this means that they are missing out on a whole area of divine creativity and human existence, which is so sad. People are not simply "souls to be saved" or "intellects to be fed".

I don't think it's necessarily 'sad'. We can't all be interested in everything. And if churches attract certain personality types, it's unsurprising if the membership in some quarters prioritises other things as more important than (high) art. The choice is probably starker among church communities where time, money or artistic understanding are limited. Some evangelical traditions do have a very high regard for classical musical training, though. And the use of visuals is more common than before in low church settings.

Literature seems to be more problematic. I read a few years ago that the (British) clergy are the least likely of all professionals to read novels. Not enough time was the excuse, but I also suspect that personality and background have some bearing on it. There are very few references to novels in the mainstream preaching I've heard.

Evangelicals used to be concerned that novel-reading was an unhealthy distraction from righteous thinking and devotional material. American writers developed the Christian novel as a way of breaking down this resistance, but there isn't much of an audience for British Christian fiction any more (although Christian themes and references remain popular in secular fiction). I wonder how the average churchgoer compares with the wider society when it comes to consuming or producing fiction and poetry.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
No, this is ridiculous to you. Which is all I was saying with the 'Art that must be explained to you, has failed you.' You feel (very strongly, apparently) that if you need art explained to you, it's failed as art.

Again, not me. The art world functions more and more on the explanation and exclusivity than anything else. And in that, may lose eventually. In a way, it has to have some method of choosing what belongs, else there would be no way to create a museum or gallery. Galleries do not merely sell what is popular, they create it. The "low" and "folk" art denigrated on this thread, has risen in value because the cognoscenti have so decided there is value. The same people whose spiritual predecessors laughed at it.

quote:

You speak on this subject with entirely subjective views. As, probably, do we all. But your assertions are not universal truths, and I think there's enough of us on here to indicate that to be the case.

Of course my views are subjective. But they are not uniformed populism, nor cries of preference.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Is St. Basil's a candy-coloured eyesore unless one is Orthodox?

It's a candy-coloured eyesore even if one is Orthodox.

quote:
And who defines what is art?
Oh God haven't we had that thread enough times?

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Of course my views are subjective. But they are not uniformed populism, nor cries of preference.

Then what are they? Mere idiosyncrasy?

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Doc Tor
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
The "low" and "folk" art denigrated on this thread

Yeah, it's not really been denigrated, has it?

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Gamaliel
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I haven't denigrated folk art at all. Where did I do that?

I've not seen anyone else do so either.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Is St. Basil's a candy-coloured eyesore unless one is Orthodox?

It's a candy-coloured eyesore even if one is Orthodox.
lol, fair enough. Though I like it.

quote:

quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
Of course my views are subjective. But they are not uniformed populism, nor cries of preference.

Then what are they? Mere idiosyncrasy?

Anything I do will have that as a factor. But museums and galleries around Europe since before I could read the titles, A bit of art education and much exposure to the art world through curators, collectors, gallery owners and artists. Doesn't make me correct by itself, but my opinions are not just floating out there.

quote:
Originally posted by Doc Tor:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
The "low" and "folk" art denigrated on this thread

Yeah, it's not really been denigrated, has it?
Yeah, my bad. Though using the terms "high" and "low" is. the thread has not been so harsh.

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If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
But museums and galleries around Europe since before I could read the titles, A bit of art education and much exposure to the art world through curators, collectors, gallery owners and artists. Doesn't make me correct by itself, but my opinions are not just floating out there.

So you've been to some museums and taken some courses, so your opinion is all but objective?

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
so your opinion is all but objective?

Well, it is really is completely objective, I was just being humble like. [Roll Eyes]
Opinions can be uninformed and they can be informed. Informed does not guarantee any level of objectivity, but neither does opinion necessarily mean it lacks any.
An informed opinion is what I have, take that however you wish.

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No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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I'm surprised nobody has mentioned leftist Catholic art of the 60s and 70s, such as Ade Bethune and Fritz Eichenberg's work for The Catholic Worker. Much of it wouldn't look out of place in a modern zine. I'm also a big fan of Enid Chadwick and her beautiful Anglo-Catholic illustrations, particularly a gem of a children's book called My Book Of The Church's Year, which I long to have come into print again.

What impact does an artist's personal life have? For instance I love Eric Gill's sculpture, many examples of which are Christian - most prominently the Stations in Westminster Cathedral. But his personal life was utterly un-Christian in some particularly abhorrent ways. Yet I wouldn't want to erase the art of his that exists.

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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Nonconformists tend to privilege words and populist music over "high art", and I can see why.

To my mind there shouldn't be a tension. Art is valued (at least in part) because it expresses That Which Cannot Be Told In Mere Words, which is kind of what religious experience is all about.

A sermon is good for many things, but it is easier, I think, to hear the numinous in Thomas Tallis than in a sermon. In that sense, the music of Tallis isn't an adjunct to the Gospel - it is the Gospel.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:


quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
The Hands have taken on a life of their own because the altarpiece itself has been destroyed by fire, and also because of the bollocks that is sometimes peddled about how they are Albrecht's brother's hands after working down a mine.

Story is almost always a feature in the selling of art and artists.
In fairness, the story about the brother going down the mine isn't trying to sell Dürer - it's trying to sell books of Inspirational Stories For Sermon Illustrations.

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Adeodatus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
To my mind there shouldn't be a tension. Art is valued (at least in part) because it expresses That Which Cannot Be Told In Mere Words, which is kind of what religious experience is all about.

A sermon is good for many things, but it is easier, I think, to hear the numinous in Thomas Tallis than in a sermon. In that sense, the music of Tallis isn't an adjunct to the Gospel - it is the Gospel.

Yes. Yes to the power of yes. This is where I'm at.

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"What is broken, repair with gold."

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Adeodatus
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By the way, some thoughts on artistic judgement -

Basically, if you want to piss off an artist, tell them "Well it's all subjective, isn't it?" No. It is not. There are established criteria for judging a work of art, some of which rely on personal response, many of which don't. What the criteria are, often, is arbitrary, but that's not the same as subjective. Common criteria of a judged painting exhibition are (1) skill, (2) originality, (3) engagement. Often there'll be (4) social or political comment. Of these only (3) is really about each judge's subjective response to the work. (1) is about the very basic matter of handling your materials, and (2) is about how the work relates to everything else that's out there: objective, or at least quasi-objective criteria.

In summary, whether you like the piece or not may be subjective. Whether it's good isn't.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Adeodatus:


In summary, whether you like the piece or not may be subjective. Whether it's good isn't.

Utter cobblers. There is no possible objective way to determine whether art as diverse as cartoons, novels, poetry and ballet are good or bad. One can critique their skill, their vision, their humour etc, but there can be no way to determine whether they're "good".

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