Friday 13 January 2006

Controversial paintings

Kim’s list of “essential paintings” posted here yesterday is being discussed far and wide around the blogosphere, with responses both of protest and of praise.


Anonymous said...

What a storm - in a tea cup?

To repeat (yawn), the omission of icons was simply to limit the field, there was no hidden ideological agenda. I look forward to an "Essential Icons for Theologians" a.s.a.p.

It is rather ironic - is it not? -that a blog named "Incarnatus est" objects to the representation of the human form? Irenaeus said that "The glory of God is the human being fully alive." I rest my case.

As for "The Pilgrim's Progress" and his fierce iconoclasm, I would recommend, e.g., some Coleridge on the epistemological freight carried by metaphor and imagery. And if he is so "how very dare you!" about artists depicting first century characters in contemporary dress, he should be consistent and write in Aramaic, Greek, or Latin.

Thanks to all who have made alternative or supplementary suggestions, for adding to my own inner list of artists to be reckoned with. One hand washes another.

Paul Gregory Alms said...

Well, I (incarnatus est) did not really object to the representation of the human form but to what seems to me the rationalistic manner in which Western religious art portrays religious scenes.

Western art is intent on realism; Easter art on transfiguration. Both have at the center the reality of the human form but (again, imo) Eastern icons wish to portray the human form and creation as inhabited by the divine. Realism in specifically religious art leaves me cold for it seems to leave out the religious bit. Like science without faith.

I completely understand your limiting the list. Hey, thats what makes for discussion. All in good fun.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

I have icons. I like icons. But give me three-dimensionality any day. I much prefer artwork. Alms just skipped to many art appreciation classes.

: )


Anonymous said...

Hi, Paul,

Thanks for your comment. But I'm not at all sure (a) about your equation of "realism" with "rationalism"; (b) I am equally unsure about your opposing "transfiguration" to "realism" (for example, does the 19th century "realistic" novel have less transformative possibilities than 20th century
modernist and postmodernist fiction? - or, staying with painting, do the impressionists have some sort of transformative advantage over the early Renaissance artists who had just discovered perspective?); in short (c) I cannot see on what grounds you privilege one artistic medium/style/school over another in mediating the divine. Rublev certainly does it for me - but no more so than, say, Rembrandt. Perhaps you have a tin ear (I ceratinly do in some areas of art, but I put it down to my own deafness, not to the art itself) - or, more generously, perhaps it's a matter of taste and temperament.

To broaden the conversation, presumably you would oppose art/poetry/music in general to natural science, the latter being a "rationalistic" enterprise?
As if the scientific deployment or reason is not itself something imaginative, beautiful, glorious? When Karl Barth, a notorious "fideist" (sic) was asked about the place of "reason" in his theology, he replied, "I use it!"

I guess I'm saying something like: "What God has joined together in creation, let no one put asunder!"

Anonymous said...

Here's a good link for icons:

Which Rublev Kim? I like his Savior & O.T. Trinity. In the link above I saw (what are considered great), Vladimir Mother of God, and Mt Sinai Christ.

Anonymous said...

"The Holy Trinity", Steve, from the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow.
And thanks for the link.

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