All Great Art is Praise
Aidan Nichols Catholic University of America Press, 2016 Library of Congress PR5267.R4N53 2016 | Dewey Decimal 828.809
The volume looks especially closely at Ruskin's changing attitudes to Catholicism. The son of a stoutly Bible-Protestant mother and a father politically opposed to the civil emancipation of Catholics, Ruskin found it increasingly difficult to combine his inherited anti-Catholicism with his appreciation of Byzantine-Venetian, Renaissance-humanist, and Franciscan-evangelical art and the program for living these contained or implied. The rumors in late life of his immanent conversion to Rome proved unfounded, but they were not implausible. All Great Art is Praise seeks to show why
“The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by ‘the disenchantment of the world.’” Max Weber’s statement remains a dominant interpretation of the modern condition: the increasing capabilities of knowledge and science have banished mysteries, leaving a world that can be mastered technically and intellectually. And though this idea seems empowering, many people have become disenchanted with modern disenchantment. Using intimate encounters with works of art to explore disenchantment and the possibilities of re-enchantment, Arts of Wonder addresses questions about the nature of humanity, the world, and God in the wake of Weber’s diagnosis of modernity.
Jeffrey L. Kosky focuses on a handful of artists—Walter De Maria, Diller + Scofidio, James Turrell, and Andy Goldsworthy—to show how they introduce spaces hospitable to mystery and wonder, redemption and revelation, and transcendence and creation. What might be thought of as religious longings, he argues, are crucial aspects of enchanting secularity when developed through encounters with these works of art. Developing a model of religion that might be significant to secular culture, Kosky shows how this model can be employed to deepen interpretation of the art we usually view as representing secular modernity. A thoughtful dialogue between philosophy and art, Arts of Wonder will catch the eye of readers of art and religion, philosophy of religion, and art criticism.
Disfiguring is the first sustained interpretation of the deep but often hidden links among twentieth-century art, architecture, and religion. While many of the greatest modern painters and architects have insisted on the spiritual significance of their work, historians of modern art and architecture have largely avoided questions of religion. Likewise, contemporary philosophers and theologians have, for the most part, ignored visual arts. Taylor presents a carefully structured and subtly nuanced analysis of the religious presuppositions that inform recent artistic theory and practice—and, in doing so, recasts the cultural landscape of our era.
In 2018 India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, inaugurated the world's tallest statue: a 597-foot figure of nationalist leader Sardar Patel. Twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, it is but one of many massive statues built following India's economic reforms of the 1990s. In Gods in the Time of Democracy Kajri Jain examines how monumental icons emerged as a religious and political form in contemporary India, mobilizing the concept of emergence toward a radical treatment of art historical objects as dynamic assemblages. Drawing on a decade of fieldwork at giant statue sites in India and its diaspora and interviews with sculptors, patrons, and visitors, Jain masterfully describes how public icons materialize the intersections between new image technologies, neospiritual religious movements, Hindu nationalist politics, globalization, and Dalit-Bahujan verifications of equality and presence. Centering the ex-colony in rethinking key concepts of the image, Jain demonstrates how these new aesthetic forms entail a simultaneously religious and political retooling of the “infrastructures of the sensible.”
David Freedberg University of Chicago Press, 2021 Library of Congress N8740.F74 2020 | Dewey Decimal 201.67
With new surges of activity from religious, political, and military extremists, the destruction of images has become increasingly relevant on a global scale. A founder of the study of early modern and contemporary iconoclasm, David Freedberg has addressed this topic for five decades. His work has brought this subject to a central place in art history, critical to the understanding not only of art but of all images in society. This volume collects the most significant of Freedberg’s texts on iconoclasm and censorship, bringing five key works back into print alongside new assessments of contemporary iconoclasm in places ranging from the Near and Middle East to the United States, as well as a fresh survey of the entire subject. The writings in this compact volume explore the dynamics and history of iconoclasm, from the furious battles over images in the Reformation to government repression in modern South Africa, the American culture wars of the early 1990s, and today’s cancel culture.
Freedberg combines fresh thinking with deep expertise to address the renewed significance of iconoclasm, its ideologies, and its impact. This volume also provides a supplement to Freedberg’s essay on idolatry and iconoclasm from his pathbreaking book, The Power of Images. Freedberg’s writings are of foundational importance to this discussion, and this volume will be a welcome resource for historians, museum professionals, international law specialists, preservationists, and students.
In Interplay of Things Anthony B. Pinn theorizes religion as a technology for interrogating human experiences and the boundaries between people and other things. Rather than considering religion in terms of institutions, doctrines, and creeds, Pinn shows how religion exposes the openness and porousness of all things and how they are always involved in processes of exchange and interplay. Pinn examines work by Nella Larsen and Richard Wright that illustrates an openness between things, and he traces how pop art and readymades point to the multidirectional nature of influence. He also shows how Ron Athey's and Clifford Owens's performance art draws out inherent interconnectedness to various cultural codes in ways that reveal the symbiotic relationship between art and religion as a technology. Theorizing that antiblack racism and gender- and class-based hostility constitute efforts to close off the porous nature of certain bodies, Pinn shows how many artists have rebelled against these attempts to counter openness. His analyses offer a means by which to understand the porous, unbounded, and open nature of humans and things.
Long Suffering productively links avant-garde performance practices with religious histories in the United States, setting contemporary performances of endurance art within a broader context of prophetic religious discourse in the United States. Its focus is on the work of Ron Athey, Linda Montano, and John Duncan, American artists whose performances involve extended periods of suffering. These unsettling performances can disturb, shock, or frighten audiences, leaving them unsure how to respond. The book examines how these artists work at the limits of the personal and the interpersonal, inflicting suffering on themselves and others, transforming audiences into witnesses, straining social relations, and challenging definitions of art and of ethics. By performing the death of self at the heart of trauma, strategies of endurance signal artists’ attempts to visualize, legitimize, and testify to the persistent experience of being wounded. The artworks discussed find their foundations in artists’ early experiences of religion and connections with the work of reformers from Angelina Grimké to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who also used suffering as a strategy to highlight social injustice and call for ethical, social, and political renewal.
A Mieke Bal Reader
Mieke Bal University of Chicago Press, 2006 Library of Congress NX65.B35 2006 | Dewey Decimal 700.9
Mieke Bal has had a significant impact on every field she has touched, from Old Testament scholarship and narratology to critical methods and visual culture. This brilliant and controversial intellectual invariably performs a high-wire act at the point where critical issues and methods intersect—or collide. She is deeply interested in the problems of cultural analysis across a range of disciplines. A Mieke Bal Reader brings together for the first time a representative collection of her work that distills her broad interests and areas of expertise.
This Reader is organized into four parts, reflecting the fields that Bal has most profoundly influenced: literary study, interdisciplinary methodology, visual analysis, and postmodern theology. The essays include some of Bal’s most characteristic and provocative work, capturing her at the top of her form. “Narration and Focalization,” for example, provides the groundwork for Bal’s ideas on narrative, while “Reading Art?” clearly outlines her concept of reading images. “Religious Canon and Literary Identity” reenvisions Bal’s own work at the intersection of theology and cultural analysis, while “Enfolding Feminism” argues for a new feminist rallying cry that is not a position but a metaphor. More than a dozen other essays round out the four sections, each of which is interdisciplinary in its own right: the section devoted to literature, for instance, ranges widely over psychoanalysis, theology, photography, and even autobiography.
A Mieke Bal Reader is the product of a capacious intellect and a sustained commitment to critical thinking. It will prove to be instructive, maddening, and groundbreaking—in short, all the hallmarks of intellectual inquiry at its best.
France, officially, is a secular nation. Yet Catholicism is undeniably a monumental presence, defining the temporal and spatial rhythms of Paris. At the same time, it often fades into the background as nothing more than “heritage.” In a creative inversion, Elayne Oliphant asks in The Privilege of Being Banal what, exactly, is hiding in plain sight? Could the banality of Catholicism actually be a kind of hidden power?
Exploring the violent histories and alternate trajectories effaced through this banal backgrounding of a crucial aspect of French history and culture, this richly textured ethnography lays bare the profound nostalgia that undergirds Catholicism’s circulation in nonreligious sites such as museums, corporate spaces, and political debates. Oliphant’s aim is to unravel the contradictions of religion and secularism and, in the process, show how aesthetics and politics come together in contemporary France to foster the kind of banality that Hannah Arendt warned against: the incapacity to take on another person’s experience of the world. A creative meditation on the power of the taken-for-granted, The Privilege of Being Banal is a landmark study of religion, aesthetics, and public space.
Our historical understanding of the Reformation in northern Europe has tended to privilege the idea of disruption and innovation over continuity - yet even the most powerful reformation movements drew on and exchanged ideas with earlier cultural and religious practices. This volume attempts to right the balance, bringing together a roster of experts to trace the continuities between the medieval and early modern period in the Nordic realm, while enabling us to see the Reformation and its changes in a new light.
The book first argues that religious feeling persists in the secular western mind; that it has taken refuge in the unlikeliest of camps, indeed with the supposed debunker of religious creed: the rationalist existential ego.
Renowned as one of the most significant museums built by private collectors, the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, seeks to engage viewers in an acutely aesthetic, rather than pedagogical, experience of works of art. The Menil's emphasis on being moved by art, rather than being taught art history, comes from its founders' conviction that art offers a way to reintegrate the sacred and the secular worlds. Inspired by the French Catholic revivalism of the interwar years that recast Catholic tradition as the avant-garde, Dominique and John de Menil shared with other Catholic intellectuals a desire to reorder a world in crisis by imbuing modern cultural forms with religious faith, binding the sacred with the modern.
Sacred Modern explores how the Menil Collection gives expression to the religious and political convictions of its founders and how "the Menil way" is being both perpetuated and contested as the Museum makes the transition from operating under the personal direction of Dominique de Menil to the stewardship of career professionals. Taking an ethnographic approach, Pamela G. Smart analyzes the character of the Menil aesthetic, the processes by which it is produced, and the sensibilities that it is meant to generate in those who engage with the collection. She also offers insight into the extraordinary impact Dominique and John de Menil had on the emergence of Houston as a major cultural center.
Ever since its emergence in colonial-era Cuba, Afro-Cuban Santería (or Lucumí) has displayed a complex dynamic of continuity and change in its institutions, rituals, and iconography. In Santería Enthroned, David H. Brown combines art history, cultural anthropology, and ethnohistory to show how Africans and their descendants have developed novel forms of religious practice in the face of relentless oppression.
Focusing on the royal throne as a potent metaphor in Santería belief and practice, Brown shows how negotiation among ideologically competing interests have shaped the religion's symbols, rituals, and institutions from the nineteenth century to the present. Rich case studies of change in Cuba and the United States, including a New Jersey temple and South Carolina's Oyotunji Village, reveal patterns of innovation similar to those found among rival Yoruba kingdoms in Nigeria. Throughout, Brown argues for a theoretical perspective on culture as a field of potential strategies and "usable pasts" that actors draw upon to craft new forms and identities—a perspective that will be invaluable to all students of the African Diaspora.
American Acemy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion (Analytical-Descriptive Category)
Examines how and why religion matters in the history of modern American art.
Andy Warhol is one of the best-known American artists of the twentieth century. He was also an observant Catholic who carried a rosary, went to mass regularly, kept a Bible by his bedside, and depicted religious subjects throughout his career. Warhol was a spiritual modern: a modern artist who appropriated religious images, beliefs, and practices to create a distinctive style of American art.
Spiritual Moderns centers on four American artists who were both modern and religious. Joseph Cornell, who showed with the Surrealists, was a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist. Mark Tobey created pioneering works of Abstract Expressionism and was a follower of the Bahá’í Faith. Agnes Pelton was a Symbolist painter who embraced metaphysical movements including New Thought, Theosophy, and Agni Yoga. And Warhol, a leading figure in Pop art, was a lifelong Catholic. Working with biographical materials, social history, affect theory, and the tools of art history, Doss traces the linked subjects of art and religion and proposes a revised interpretation of American modernism.
Caterina Vigri (later Saint Catherine of Bologna) was a mystic, writer, teacher and nun-artist. Her first home, Corpus Domini, Ferrara, was a house of semi-religious women that became a Poor Clare convent and model of Franciscan Observant piety. Vigri's intensely spiritual decoration of her breviary, as well as convent altarpieces that formed a visual program of adoration for the Body of Christ, exemplify the Franciscan Observant visual culture. After Vigri's departure, it was transformed by d'Este women patrons, including Isabella da Aragona, Isabella d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia. While still preserving Observant ideals, it became a more elite noblewomen's retreat.Grounded in archival research and extant paintings, drawings, prints and art objects from Corpus Domini, this volume explores the art, visual culture, and social history of an early modern Franciscan women's community.