God in the Gallery A Christian Embrace of Modern Art
Daniel A. Siedell (Baker Academic: Oct 1, 2008), 192 pages.
Siedell likens Christians' encounter with modern and contemporary fine art to St. Paul's discovery of the altar to an unknown god on Mars Hill (Acts 17:23). Responding to those who have called for a separate Christian art (particularly Francis Schaeffer and H.R. Rookmaaker), he strives to reveal what modern art is only able to point to, not to name. Siedell uses his in-depth knowledge as former art curator and current assistant professor of art history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to argue that perceptions of this legitimate cultural practice can be nourished by a robust Nicene Christianity. These disparate essays tackle subjects both ambitious (a history of modern art) and esoteric (a single work by artist Enrique Martínez Celaya; the conflict between art critics Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg). Siedell's love of contemporary art is obvious, but his sometimes abstruse writing doesn't always clarify his formidable subject; indeed, it may reinforce some Christians' view of modern art as unapproachable. His primary audience is clearly art specialists, whether students or professionals; Siedell's interesting thesis may not reach the larger audience it deserves.
Table of Contents
- 1 Overture 21
- 2 A history of modern art 35
- 3 Enrique Martinez Celaya's Thing and deception : the artistic practice of belief 51
- 4 Embodying transcendence : material spirituality in contemporary art 71
- 5 Art criticism 109
- 6 Art, liturgy, and the church 133
- Conclusion The search for Christian art and the Christian artist 153
- Index 187