Art, Beauty, Interpretation
- Theological Aesthetics (2) : Creating to the Glory of God
PJ O'Rourke on Humanity said...
Atlantic Unbound, August 8, 2002
Of course the answer to my question about Middle Easterners is that all people are crazy and always have been. Just look at the pyramids, which are as crazy a structure as anybody would ever care to realize. The ancient Egyptians weren't Middle Easterners in our modern terms. They were a civilization all on their own with a different language and a different culture a gazillion years ago. But they acted as perfectly mad as anything modern. There's a deep streak of psychosis that runs through human beings, no matter what their culture.
Eric Metaxas on Art and Evil said...
"To End All Christian Films" in Books and Culture (July/August 2002, Vol. 8, No. 4, Page 6)
What Christian films — and Christian "art" in general — have lacked is a willingness to portray evil convincingly. It was Milton's Satan and Dante's Inferno that made them two of the most powerful Christian artists of all time. Because they understood evil and did not shrink from it, their depictions of goodness had power. In order to be redemptive, art has to convince us there is something real from which we need redeeming. Conversely, much secular art in the last half-century illustrates confusion and pain brilliantly but provides no antidote. The screeching hell of marital discord in Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives puts the viewer as close to seeing the need for God as any "Christian film" ever has, but stops there. Ditto John Updike's anti-paeans to adultery and suburban ennui; he limns the darkness all so well, so perfectly — too perfectly — and then splits for the golf course. We get universes of darkness without light, and from Christian "artists" we get watts of light without darkness. So it seems a little chiaroscuro is generally in order. Early on in the movie, at Mclean's funeral — which is a genuine Christian funeral rather than the papier-mâché facsimiles Hollywood usually gives us ("dearly beloved, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and so on) Miller reminds his fellow prisoners that "there is suffering before glory, there is a cross before the crown." That says it.
Gary Kamiya on the Avante Garde said...
"Loudmouths and Legends", Salon.com (May 16, 2001).
Again and again, the authors of these manifestos open with a mighty trumpet blast, issuing the most lofty and passionate denunciations of the imbecilic, stale, decadent, safe, bourgeois, vile, outmoded, mechanical, academic, etc. tradition they are rejecting. But when it comes time for them to reveal their epochal new vision, the mighty doctrine that will overthrow the past, turn art on its head and lead mankind into a dazzling new era of truth and beauty, it turns out to be, well, "spatial forms arising from the intersection of the reflected rays of various objects" (Rayonists Mikhail Larionov and Natalya Goncharov). Or a theater in which the actors read aloud from their parts (the Russian symbolist Fyodor Sologub). Or a placard proclaiming "No Girdle!" (The nunist Pierre Albert-Birot, who also incorrectly asserted that nunism is "an 'ism' to outlast the others.") Without discounting the originality of these ideas — rayonist paintings are among the first abstract works ever executed, Sologub's theater anticipates Brecht, and Birot would have burned Andy Warhol in a game of one-on-one — after the mighty windup, there's something banana peel-like about these aesthetic punchlines.
Camilla Paglia on Art said...
Salon.com (February, 2001)
Although I'm an atheist who believes only in great nature, I recognize the spiritual richness and grandeur of the Roman Catholicism in which I was raised. And I despise anyone who insults the sustaining values and symbol system of so many millions of people of different races around the world. An authentically avant-garde artist today would show his or her daring by treating religion sympathetically. Anti-religious sneers are a hallmark of perpetual adolescents. When will artists climb out of the postmodernist ditch and accept their high mission to address a general audience? An art of chic coteries, whether in rococo aristocratic France or in drearily ironic, nervously posturing New York, ends up in a mental mousehole.
Liv Ullmann on Art said...
Forbes ASAP, October 2, 2000.
What are the most authentic moments in movie history? For me, it was to see Miracle in Milan by Vittorio De Sica, when a whole, very poor village was saved, and there was redemption and food and everything they needed. I saw it when I was a child, and somehow it almost changed my life. I wanted to be part of the world, part of doing something in the world — it made me want to be a good person. It really told me it's important to live, it's important what you do. [Authenticity in filmmaking] must be possible. Because otherwise you are just bullshit. It's entertainment with no value. And we don't need any more of that. You need to have somewhere where you have a conversation with yourself.
At Eternity's Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent Van Gogh (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), xv.
[On Van Gogh] He could not have made it more clear: to the end, he was wrestling with the profound themes of faith, even to the point of revisiting classic paintings with biblical themes and giving new expression to them. Yes, he was tormented in those late years when he was portraying those biblical events and persons. But he was tormented in ways that helped him to see, and not to lapse into nostalgia or second-rate reproduction. Goethe liked to speak of the artist's ability to see — schauen — really to see.
Camille Paglia on Art said...
"My Case for the 'New Sexism': How a D.C. Art Gallery Celebrated Standards, Sexuality and Women", The Washington Post Wire Service, Sunday, September 26, 1993.
Issues of quality and standards have been foolishly abandoned by liberals, who now interpret aesthetics as nothing but a mask for ideology. As a result the far right has gained enormously. What madness is abroad in the land when only neoconservatives will defend the grandeur of art? Greatness is not a white male trick. Every important world civilization has defined its artistic tradition in elitist terms of distinction and excellence.
Gene Edward Veith, Jr. on Art said...
State of the Arts: From Bezalel to Mapplethorpe (Crossway Books: 1991) p. 165.
This does not mean that Christianity can be successfully expressed in every style. Some styles are wholly interwoven with aberrant philosophies (indeed, such styles are often nothing more than philosophical statements, which is why they are so bad aesthetically). Sometimes, Christians follow a particular style uncritically without recognizing the implicit contradictions between their faith and the style they are using to express it. Such incompatibility between form and content results in bad Christian art. (Late Victorian sentimentality, heavy metal nihilism, and pop culture consumerism would not seem to accord with a Biblical sensibility, but such misbegotten hybrids fill the Christian bookstores.)
C.S. Lewis on Appreciation said...
The Four Loves (Harcourt Trade: 1971), p. 13-14, 16-17.
Pleasures of Appreciation are very different. They make us feel that something has not merely gratified our senses in fact but claimed our appreciation by right. The connoisseur does not merely enjoy his claret as he might enjoy warming his feet when they were cold. He feels that here is a wine that deserves his full attention; that justifies all the tradition and skill that have gone to its making and all the years of training that have made his own palate fit to judge it. There is even a glimmering of unselfishness in his attitude. He wants the wine to be preserved and kept in good condition, not entirely for his own sake. Even if he were on his death-bed and was never going to drink wine again, he would be horrified as the thought of this vintage being spilled or spoiled or even drunk by clods (like myself) who can't tell a good claret from a bad. And so with the man who passes the sweet-peas. He does not simply enjoy, he feels that this fragrance somehow deserves to be enjoyed. He would blame himself if he went past inattentive and undelighted. It would be blockish, insensitive. It would be a shame that so fine a thing should have been wasted on him. He will remember the delicious moment years hence. He will be sorry when he hears that the garden past which his walk led him that day has now been swallowed up by cinemas, garages, and the new by-pass ... But in the Appreciative pleasures, even at their lowest, and more and more as they grow up into the full appreciation of all beauty, we get something that we can hardly help calling love and hardly help calling disinterested, towards the object itself. It is the feeling which would make a man unwilling to deface a great picture even if he were the last man left alive and himself about to die; which makes us glad of unspoiled forests that we shall never see; which makes us anxious that the garden or bean-field should continue to exit. We do not merely like the things; we pronounce them, in a momentarily God-like sense, "very good." ... This judgment that the object is very good, this attention (almost homage) offered to it as a kind of debt, this wish that it should be and should continue being what it is even if we were never to enjoy it, can go out not only to things but to persons. When it is offered to a woman we call it admiration; when to a man, hero-worship; when to God, worship simply.
David Hume on Art and Taste said...
"The Epicurean" and "Of the Standards of Taste", in Essays Moral, Political, Literary (1748), Essays 15 and 23.
It is a great mortification to the vanity of man, that his utmost art and industry can never equal the meanest of nature's productions, either for beauty or value. Art is only the under-workman, and is employed to give a few strokes of embellishment to those pieces, which come from the hand of the master. ... Art may make a suit of clothes; but nature must produce a man. ... All sentiment is right; because sentiment has a reference to nothing beyond itself, and is always real, wherever a man is conscious of it. But all determinations of the understanding are not right; because they have a reference to something beyond themselves, to wit, real matter of fact; and are not always conformable to that standard. ... Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may even perceive deformity, where another is sensible of beauty; and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others.